Skip to main content

Full text of "Poems in captivity"

See other formats


i 



= 00 

?CD 

I CD 
1 
1 

I CO 

? 00 



POEMS IN CAPTIVITY 



B Y THE SAME A UTHOR 

A PRISONER 

IN TURKEY 

AN ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR'S 
EXPERIENCES DURING OVER 
THREE YEARS IN TURKISH 
PRISON CAMPS 

THE BODLEY HEAD 



POEMS IN CAPTIVITY 

BY JOHN STILL <S> 



LONDON : JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD 
NEW YORK : JOHN LANE COMPANY MCMXIX 



> A P, 

\ ' 



1974 



m 



Printed in Great Britain 
by Turnbull &> Shears, Edinburgh 



TO 
MY WIFE 



FOREWORD 

IN the long years of captivity in Turkey, where each 
one of us was driven to seek inside himself some 
alleviation of the daily dullness, many of us there 
found things we had not suspected to exist. For, to 
find distraction, we were thrown back more upon our 
own creative powers, and were helped less by our 
surroundings than ever is the case in normal life. 
Some found the wit to write plays, and others the 
talent to play them. Some discovered the power 
to draw ; and one at least found much music in 
his mental storehouse. Some developed into expert 
carpenters, and others, less profitably, into hardly 
less expert splitters of hairs ! Some found in others 
a depth of kindness more durable I think than the 
depths of hate this war has generated. I found these 
verses, all of which were written there, and their 
discovery made more happy many of the eleven 
hundred and seventy -nine days I spent as a prisoner 
of war. Few there were who found no resource, and 
they perhaps found the more endurance. 

A few notes at the end of this book may serve to 
explain some lines which might otherwise be obscure 
to those who do not know any tropical forest, with its 

vii 



FOREWORD 

human, sub-human and super-human peoples. There 
are also references to a little-known history, and they 
too have to be made clear. And finally, a note here 
and there is necessary to throw light upon several 
episodes of captivity. 

J. S. 



Vlll 



CONTENTS 

PART I 
PRISON VERSES 

PAGE 

CAPTIVITY 3 

EVENING PRAYER 5 

BIRTHDAY IN PRISON . 6 

FAREWELL, ANGORA 7 

A VISION OF WASTE ....... 12 

THE MIRAGE 16 

KARA HISSAR 18 

THE POPPY FIELDS 20 

THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 23 

THE CAPTIVE'S ABC 36 

THE CUCKOO 37 

RUMOURS OP PEACE 38 

THE STORKS 40 

THE GREAT OFFENSIVE 41 

THE WIND IN THE PRISON CHIMNEY ... 42 

THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY . . ] . 43 

WITH THE REARGUARD 58 

HOPE 62 

DREAMS 63 

ix 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 



CHRISTMAS DAY 65 

THE PASSING OF 1916 67 

WHEN ALL THIS is OVER 68 

To EILEEN 70 

IN THE WOODED CARPATHIANS ... .71 

To EILEEN, AGED ONE 73 

THE FOURTH MAN 74 

AFTER THE WAR 76 

THE LITTLE OWL 78 

SPRING AND HARVEST 79 

NOBLESSE OBLIGE 81 

LETTERS FROM PIOME ....... 82 

A PRISONER'S SONG 83 

BEYOND THE WALLS 84 

RELEASE 85 

THE DOOR 89 



PART II 
WOODCRAFT AND FOREST LORE 

FEAR IN THE FOREST 93 

THE LOTUS POOL 95 

IN THE FOREST 97 

HEARD ON A HILI 98 

RAIN 99 

MONKEYS 100 

THE HORNBILL 101 

X 



CONTENTS 

PACK 

THE LONG-TAILED ROBIN . . * ..'. . . 102 

THE Louis 103 

BEARS . ..,,... 104 

JACKALS 105 

THE CLIFF OF WINGS . . - . . . .106 

BAMBARA-GALA 107 

BY SINKING-GARDENS . . . . 109 

WAVE-AWAY-STONBS in 

THE DAWN-CHILD .'113 

SONG OF THE MOSQUITOES 115 

THE BRIDGE OF TIME 117 

Tin. RUINED CITY 119 

THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 124 



PART III 
TALES FROM THE MAHAWANSA 

THE MESSENGER 155 

THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA .... 162 
KASYAPA 209 

PART IV 

VARIOUS SONGS AND SKETCHES 

THE PATH OF PAIN 262 

THE PATH OF WISDOM 272 

THE PATH OF LOVE 283 

xi 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

BLIND BEGGAR'S PATTER 285 

SUN WORSHIP 288 

MOLOCH 290 

A LOST ART 295 

HIDE AND SEEK 296 

A CHILD'S TALE 297 

TRUE CLAIRVOYANCE 298 

THE FISHERMAN 300 

THE REEF 302 

NOTES 304 



Xll 



PART I 
PRISON VERSES 



CAPTIVITY 

1SAW a flight of herons cross the sky, 
Borne by slow-beating multitudinous wings ; 
Spread in a twinkling crescent, flying high, 
TTiey travelled eastward, seeking many things. 

I watched a thousand swallows in the air 
Weaving wide patterns with invisible thread, 
Speeding and fleeting swiftly here and there, 
And seeking in the heavens their daily bread. 

I saw a hanging hawk above a spire, 
Outspread and motionless while wind rushed past, 
Suddenly stoop deep deep down to inquire 
Into some stir that promised to end his fast. 

Now that my passage-way is barred with steel 
All free and winged things seem doubly rare, 
Objects of envy that I will not feel, 
Emblems of liberty I cannot share. 

With bayonets fixed the sentries pace below, 
With bayonet fixed one stands beside my door. 
The days drag on, the hours seem strangely slow. 
The sentry's footsteps clump along the floor. 

3 



CAPTIVITY 

One day I saw a sentry kiss his blade, 
Longing to find it some more worthy sheath ; 
Or hoping haply I might be afraid, 
I who so lately had been friends with death ! 

Yet freedom is and ever will remain 
Moral, not physical, and those are free 
Who can rise morally above their pain, 
Their minds uncrippled by captivity. 



More free by far than any bird that flies, 
My mind is free to climb among the stars, 
My soul is free to wander o'er the skies, 
Only my body lies behind the bars. 

CONSTANTINOPLE, 



EVENING PRAYER 

FROM each tall minaret the voices call, 
Floating above the roofs in waves of sound, 
That ebb and swell as he who cries moves round 
So that his voice may seek the ears of all. 
Into the deep dim streets the voices fall, 
And here and there men bow themselves and pray, 
Heedless of others, kneeling where they may, 
Beside the path or by some market stall. 
And so this wave of prayer moves round the world 
Wherever this stem fervent faith yet lives 
To make men's hearts hard as the stones of hell. 
This is their lesson, and they learn it well. 
This is the gift that rugged Islam gives 
To those for whom its standard was unfurled. 

ANGORA, 20.^.1915. 



BIRTHDAY IN PRISON 

WHAT though the wind blow cold ! 
The rum is old. 
And even we can still feel free 
Drink we but bold. 

What though the snow lie deep ! 

We still can keep 
Our feast to-day, until we pay 

In dreamless sleep. 

What though the morning break 1 

And we awake ! 
We still can sing " We've had our fling, 

We'll pay our stake." 

ANGORA, 6.i.i9i6. 



FAREWELL, ANGORA 

SIX months ago they brought us here, prisoners 
under guard, 
And put us in a strange old place built round a central 

yard. 

From which there led one low square gate, and that 
was always barred. 



Our eastern limit was a church, and west, and south, 

and north 
Monastic buildings hemmed us in, we could not issue 

forth 
Save by that one strong low square gate, guarded by 

men of wrath. 

Across the courtyard, to and fro, we paced the cobble 

stones, 
And sometimes tried to read the dates above the 

buried bones 
Of monks, beside their church that once echoed their 

solemn tones. 

They rested peacefully enough, each in his graven 
tomb, 

7 



FAREWELL, ANGORA 

With mitre and with crozier carved, unconscious of the 

gloom 
Of their successors' exodus, or of their sudden doom. 

Beside this dismal prison house there flowed a little 

stream, 
With pollard willows on the bank that almost made it 

seem 
A scrap of England dimly known through some 

forgotten dream. 

And sometimes they would let us out, while, for an 

hour of grace, 
We'd whittle willow walking-sticks and back and 

forward pace, 
While sentries with fixed bayonets guarded our narrow 

space. 

And once or twice they led us down where the old 

garden spread, 
A rough, untended wilderness where goats and sheep 

were fed 
To furnish food in turn for us, now that the monks 

were dead. 

The country all around was hills, arable upland down, 
A lovely, sunny, smiling land where splendid crops 

were grown ; 

And that which made us wretched was captivity alone. 
8 



FAREWELL, ANGORA 

Tis easy for philosophers to talk of liberty ; 

I know, for I myself have talked as though one could 

be free 
In soul and mind and spirit yet despite captivity. 

But when the days drag on and on 'tis a heroic soul 
(Or else a merry, empty mind) that still can face the 

goal 
Indefinitely far away while the slow months unroll. 

Across the stream, a mile away, there was an ancient 

town, 

That from a hill-top fortalice had gradually crept down 
The slopes on to the plain below, and there had 

spread and grown. 

And when the autumn days drew short and nights 

were growing cold, 
They moved us, as they move their sheep, into a 

warmer fold ; 
" You shall have perfect liberty " politely we were 

told. 

And, strange as it may seem, in fact their words proved 

almost true ; 
They let us wander where we would, we rambled 

through and through 
Those crumbling walls and battlements, just as we 

wished to do. 



FAREWELL, ANGORA 

A golden autumn beamed upon that favoured fertile 

land, 

And expeditions far afield into the hills were planned ; 
When suddenly our janitors all further freedom banned. 

walls of old Angora town, frowning, austere, and 

grey; 
Full of the stones of older times, of Greek or Roman 

day; 
Within your grip how many souls have groaned and 

learned to pray ? 

Roman and Greek and Saracen each held you for a 

while ; 

Carvings, inscriptions, capitals, fragments of every style 
Known in the last two thousand years unite to raise 

your pile. 

old grey walls and narrow streets, sinuous, deep, 

and dim, 
What awful tales could you relate had you the tatler's 

whim. 
But silently you hold them fast : silent, and old, and 

grim. 

How often have your annals been deep stained with 

human blood ! 
How many thousand victims have been trampled in 

your mud ; 
Your narrow, winding alley-ways running in murderous 

flood! 
10 



FAREWELL, ANGORA 

Even while we, a mile away, selfishly moaned our fate, 
The latest of your tragedies let loose this old red spate ; 
And, among others, our poor monks passed through 
their last cold gate. 

When the sun sets beyond the hills, the spiring wreaths 

of smoke 
Qothe your steep roofs with mystery till, to unknowing 

folk, 
You seem a peaceful, sleeping town, with darkness for 

a cloak. 

When all the hills that gird you round are crowned 

with gleaming snow, 
When gorgeous colours wrap the sky in splendid robes 

that glow, 
You lie in quiet hypocrisy, hiding the deeds you know. 

Good-bye, Angora. Fare thee well, fare better than 

of yore ; 
I pray to God my feet may tread your cruel stones no 

more. 
But in my heart your grim impress remains for 

evermore. 

ANGORA, 12.11.1916. 



ii 



A VISION OF WASTE 



IN prison, when the night grew dark,, 
My mind grew quiet, and my soul 
Rose from my body like a lark 
And saw the world as one round whole. 



ii 

I saw a world that lay all dim 
Beneath the dust of fighting hosts, 
Whose cruel pathway, stark and grim, 
Was followed by sad throngs of ghosts. 
These were the souls of all the dead 
Who strove to utter one last word 
To that old world from which they'd fled, 
And wept because they were not heard. 
" We do not think/' they cried, " we know 1 
This side, half knowledge, has no place. 
If we but had some means to show I 
Some way to lead your eyes to peace 1 " 
But none could hear their bitter cry, 
Nor could they compass human tones ; 
So one by one, in misery, 
Crept back and lay beside his bones. 

12 



A VISION OF WASTE 

m 

And still the guns went rumbling on : 

Gallant attacks were vainly hurled. 

The trench the shrapnel burst upon 

Stretched like a scar across the world. 

For those who thought they still had life 

Were deader than the very dead 

To aught but the incessant strife 

Whose thunder shattered overhead. 

Deaf were their ears and blind their eyes 

To all but sounds and sights of war ; 

But each, as he was slain, grew wise, 

Passing from dark through death's bright door 

And few there were who did not try 

To help their comrades left behind 

To see their efforts' vanity. 

But each in turn this hope resigned. 

IV 

Then over all this maddened world 
Drew a dark veil of racing cloud, 
In which cyclonic whirlwinds swirled, 
And thunder crashed its message loud. 
Down came the rain like a falling sky 
And cleansed the earth of crusted blood ; 
But still they fought in agony, 
Lost in a hell of purple mud. 

v 

It seemed as though some god of old, 
Some little god of little worth, 



A VISION OF WASTE 

Like those of whom men once were told, 
Were playing soldiers with the earth. 
For both sides cried upon his name ; 
Each claimed he fought upon their side : 
Which, were it true, were cause for shame, 
Though trumpeted with rabid pride. 

VI 

If among all the gods there be, 
Among the thousands men have feared, 
But one who still has eyes to see, 
But one whose voice may still be heard, 
Now is the time for him to speak ! 
Now is the time to light the blind, 
To save the strong, protect the weak, 
And gain the worship of mankind ! 

VII 

Is there a godling small enough 
To care for little things like us, 
To feel a sympathetic love 
Ev'n for our highest genius ? 
Or is the only god there is 
Immeasurably far too great 
Even to know the world is his, 
To know we live, and love, and hate ? 
The whole, of which we are a part, 
But so infinitesimal 
We must not hope to find a heart, 
Nor think our anguish counts at all. 
14 



A VISION OF WASTE 

Perhaps this war is some disease 
Among the microbes in his blood, 
Preventing their undue increase : 
Or, maybe, 'tis his passing mood. 

VIII 

Then when I turned and looked again 
The darkness seemed to me less black ; 
And while I watched the pelting rain 
I saw the tide of battle slack. 
The rain-clouds racing o'er the sky 
Cleft their ranks like a flock of birds, 
And from an aureole on high 
The rays flamed down like golden swords. 

DC 

It ended as it had begun, 
As ends the fever of a night ; 
The godling ceased his witless fun, 
The fighters found again their sight ; 
And like an ant-hill newly mended 
Men soon forgot the war just ended. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 24.^.1916. 



5 



THE MIRAGE 

ABOUT the plain the dotted trees 
Quivering danced in empty air, 
And through the heat the lazy breeze 
Seemed from the sun his rays to bear. 
I crossed the plain when the morn had sped, 
And ever the mirage moved ahead. 

The sun-hot pebbles burned my feet, 
The shimmering heat-rays made my eyes 
Too tired to judge, too prone to greet 
The vision wisdom still denies. 
And like a lake that moved ahead 
Before my feet the mirage fled. 

The tussock grass and tamarisk 
Were mirrored in the water's gleam. 
My flagging footsteps grew more brisk ; 
But, like some tantalizing dream, 
Each step I took ahead I found 
The mirage moved one step beyond. 

I halted, and the fantom lake 
Still smiled its welcome in the heat. 
I tried bv flight the spell to break, 
The vision followed my retreat ; 
16 



THE MIRAGE 

And when I turned to look, I saw 
The mirage smiling as before. 

No craft or cunning could obtain 
One cup of water from that pool : 
No speed or lasting power could gain 
One plunge beneath those wavelets cool. 
The constant distance that I saw 
Was fixed by some eternal law. 

The years have passed away until 
Such mirage can no more deceive ; 
But in my mind there lingers still 
Some inclination to believe ; 
And, as a prisoner of war, 
I still detect that puzzling law. 

Before our eyes no trembling trees, 
No shining mere that falsely lures ; 
But ever on before us flees 
One hope that all our dullness cures ; 
For like the mirage on the plain 
It offers happiness again. 

As the months move there moves before, 
At distance that does not decrease, 
A vision of the end of war, 
A dream of home, and love, and peace. 
The mirage that moved on in space 
Follows through time instead its race. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 26.1 v. 1916. 

B ,7 



KARA HISSAR 

THIS morning when the dew was chill 
I stood and watched the towering hill, 
The tooth-topped battlements above, 
The blue-winged, flutt'ring, wild rock-dove ; 
And the cliff looked cold in the morning. 

The cliff looked cold, the cliff looked brown : 
I watched the swifts come pouring down, 
Their squadrons swinging out in chains 
That shrilled like steel above the plains, 
While their speed rejoiced in the morning. 

Then suddenly the turquoise sky 
Gave forth a strident, clanging cry, 
And five great geese flew overhead, 
Their voices sounding as they fled 
Away to the North through the morning. 

I saw the vulture on the crag 
Rise broad and steady as a flag 
Flung out above the cliff's sheer face, 
And soaring gain his pride of place 
As lord of the glorious morning. 
18 



KARA HISSAR 

Far, far above me on the rock 
I saw a climbing mountain flock : 
I could not see the shepherd boy, 
But heard his piping voice with joy 
As he sang the song of the morning. 

Then in the sunshine of the day 

The brown crag changed to gold and grey ; 

The swifts still flew in screaming strings, 

And this old sanctuary of wings 

Shone bright in the light of the morning. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 8.v.i9i6. 



THE POPPY FIELDS 

ABOVE the waving poppy fields, 
The shining meadows of insane desire, 
There stands an ancient fort that shields 
The town from sack or fire. 

Like some great pillar in the plain, 
Like some bold finger pointing to the sky, 
The cliffs upspring the clouds to gain 
And hold their rampart high. 

Walls crown it as a king is crowned : 

From out the crag their grinning teeth have grown. 

And high above the fields around 

The eagle reigns alone. 

An empty shell of ancient wall, 

A melancholy relic of old days, 

When men marched forth for faith to fall, 

To fight for Jesu's praise. 

To fight for him who never fought, 
To make a path to heav'n with bleaching bones ; 
Claiming the praise of him who sought 
To lessen human groans. 
30 



THE POPPY FIELDS 

Oh ! fitting emblem of their pride 1 
Oh 1 biting symbol of their mad desire I 
That opium poppies now wave wide 
Where they spread sword and fire ! 

The fury of the first crusade, 
That wild obsession of the noblest mind, 
Stormed through the pass their valour made, 
No crown but death to find. 

The watchers on the citadel 
Saw the vast straggling host go winding past, 
Watched the bright plain become a hell 
Where vultures follow fast. 

The shining armour of the knights, 

Their honour which they held more shining still, 

Were dimmed alike by savage fights, 

By cruel lust to kill. 

Led by a mad, ecstatic priest, 
The vows of all their highest chivalry 
Were vain to chain the raving beast 
That man can sink to be. 

Yet in their fury gleamed a vein 
Of gold that lent its purity to all 
Who sought by faith a crown to gain, 
Nor feared for faith to fall. 

For though they made their Prince of Peace 
Lend them his cross to hilt their thirsty sword, 

21 



THE POPPY FIELDS 

They strove his glory to increase, 
They fought to spread his word. 

Not less devout were those who held 
The hardy citadel upon the rock : 
Fixed in their minds, they would not yield 
Before the Christian shock. 

Those desperate days of faith and fire 
Have left their mark upon this wasted land, 
But still the goal of old desire 
Stands fast in Islam's hand. 

The old grey coronet of wall 
Watches the centuries go racing by, 
While one by one its stones still fall 
Down where their brothers lie. 

While from the starry fields of white, 

When rain leaves tears in all their glistening eyes, 

The bitter breath of strange delight 

Floats upward to the skies. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 9^.1916. 

Afion means Opium, and Kara Hissar means The Black 
Fort. The town crouches under the ruined fortress on the 
crag, and is surrounded by opium poppy fields. 



22 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

THE prisoners are herded in a church ; 
An hundred camped together on the floor ; 
And through this wondrous world a man might search 
Yet fail to find a group that varied more 
In travel and in strange experience. 
Over the world, from Ireland to Japan 
Wandering, they have burned their first incense 
Before the face of girl, or god, or man, 
And for themselves found out the truth of things, 
Or else the falseness, picking each his road, 
Now on his bended knees, and now on wings ; 
Learning the lightest way to bear the load 
That each man carries when he's cut his teeth : 
The long dark gallery of women's faces, 
Each with her story, some all veiled in grief 
Borne silently, some smiling in their places, 
And some turned to the wall that none may see 
Their scornful, hateful, scorned Medusa eyes. 

From Ireland to Japan they've wandered free, 
And east again to Ireland, till surprise 
No longer fills one at the tongues they speak. 
Full twenty languages I counted here, 
Turkish, Ukrainian, Spanish, Finnish, Greek, 
And other tongues, whose very names I fear 

23 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

Would fill more lines than I can well afford. 
And as the hill beyond this Turkish town 
With little network paths and tracks is scored, 
Where grazing sheep have wandered up and down, 
Were all their journeys over sea and land 
Plotted in lines, so would the world be crossed 
By all the tracks of this adventurous band. 
This stranded wreckage of the fighting host 
Drawn from three mighty empires in their wrath, 
And flung as new crusaders on the shore 
Whence, since the dimmest past, has issued forth 
The thoughts which men have taken for God's law. 
The lands where Jesus and Mahomet preached 
Their different doctrines, seeming both so fresh, 
But each with old long roots that clearly reached 
Into a vague and mystic tangled mesh 
Of older roots of people still more old. 
Chaldean, Syrian, Hittite, Medean lore, 
Branch beyond branch, their mysteries unfold 
To daze the minds of men for evermore. 
But if this tree still grows, it is not here, 
For now long centuries have held this land 
In bondage, where free thought has died from fear, 
And cruelty killed all that once was grand. 

Out of the South came some, across the bar 
Passed by the Israelites in days gone by, 
The wilderness of desert stretching far 
Under the cloudless glare of tropic sky, 
Where shade can offer no abiding place, 
Where the sun governs as a tyrant king. 
24 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

Some of us found an unexpected grace 

From the rough Arab hands that lightly fling 

The gift of life, the gift of death, nor care 

Which of the two great gifts they give, or find. 

So in due course these few have harboured here, 

While those who drew the blanks were left behind. 

Others among us hammered at the gate 

That guards this Empire's outpost in the West, 

Where Europe had unwillingly to mate 

With Asia, tossing in her troubled rest, 

And struggling through the ages for divorce. 

Up through the rocks among the prickly oak 

A bloody passageway we strove to force, 

Till on those iron hills our effort broke ; 

And from the bullets' blind destroying hail 

But few escaped to gain the crest alive, 

The flotsam of a wave but flung to fail. 

Of every hundred missing, barely five 

Have reached this strange menagerie of men, 

Leaving their comrades dead upon the ground. 

The Eastern front has sent a travelled ten 

Whose feet have wandered past the mighty mound 

That covers all the pomp of Nineveh. 

Some of them taken on the Tigris bank, 

And others human birds who sought to fly, 

And fell to earth, and so have joined our rank. 

For very many weary weeks and days, 

Driven like dogs along the ancient track, 

Burned by the sun that scourged their desert ways, 

At last they reached us. Now they scarce look back 

25 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

Without they feel their anger smould'ring still. 
Out of the giant North still others come ; 
Large simple-hearted Russians, with a voice 
That sings incessantly sweet songs of home : 
Music that loves to mourn, and can rejoice 
Only when Bacchus gladdens them at heart. 

In North and South, on land and in the air, 
In East and West, each one has played some part ; 
Each has seen death's dread face, each has known fear, 
And each has left some aching heart behind. 
Perhaps of all the terrors they have met, 
That which looked grimmest, for it seemed most blind, 
Was the long struggle in the deadly net 
That barred the passage of the submarine 
Who fought the wires all through an endless day, 
Slow strangled by a force that, all unseen, 
Gradually wore their strength, and seemed to play 
As fishers play a trout with rod and line ; 
While on their hull they heard the tapping lead 
Feel for their depth and guide the sinking mine, 
Whose loud explosion thundered overhead, 
But left them scatheless, so that even they 
Came out alive from underneath the sea 
Into the clean fresh air and light of day, 
Only to find themselves no longer free. 

So all the herd of captives in this place, 
With all divergence of their temp'rament, 
Of caste, and kind, of faith, and creed, and race, 
Of tongue, and habit, age, and taste, and bent, 
Find one strong bond of union that will last ; 
26 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

For each has seen the face of death unveiled ; 
Each one has seen the scythe go sweeping past ; 
And in his heart each knoweth if he quailed. 

We live in an Armenian church, 
The walls are thick, the windows barred. 
We sleep, and eat, and sleep again, 
We box, and play about the yard, 
And curse the smelling of the drain, 
And fate that left us in the lurch. 

A narrow alley up the floor, 
With crowded beds on either hand, 
In rows and groups, with stools and chairs 
All in a jumble quite unplanned, 
Where like wild beasts we all have lairs, 
Full from the altar to the door. 

Bottles, books, and boxing gloves, 
Tables, basins, trunks, and jugs, 
Biscuit tins, and plates, and lamps, 
" Poudre Insecticide " for bugs, 
Refuse of successive camps, 
Relics of our frequent moves. 

Coats are hung all round the walls, 
Photographs of pretty children 
Stand on tables, nailed on pillars 
Picture cards of wanton women 
Leer and vainly try to thrill us, 
Even their attraction palls. 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

Up and down the alley way, 

Men in pairs walk to and fro, 

Talking as they promenade 

In an intermittent flow 

Which they often interlard 

With the words they've learned to-day, 

High upon the altar platform 
Dining-tables find a place ; 
There it is we hold our concerts, 
Where the painted smiling face 
Of an angel deems us converts, 
Ready for a new reform. 

Eating, reading, smoking, sleeping, 
Singing, shouting, playing poker, 
Quite a lot of heavy drinking, 
Ragging with some other joker ; 
Loafing, moping, dreaming, thinking, 
Waiting while the months are creeping. 

But I find this story falter : 
One day is so like another 
That our only compensation, 
Only change from all this bother, 
Comes when the great Russian nation 
Gives a concert on the altar. 

Overhead the sacred dove, 
Painted on the roof above, 
Typifies eternal love. 
Hear the Russian voices boom ! 
28 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

Angels painted on the sky 
Watch our pageant passing by, 
Wonder at our minstrelsy, 
Wonder at the hollow boom. 

Painted on the altar side, 
Signifying sin defied, 
Lamb with banner, gazing wide, 
Gazing while the Russians boom. 

In the centre of the stage 
Sits a ruminating sage 
With a man of lesser age, 
Chatting while the voices boom. 

Crouching where the ruddy gleams 
Of the fire throw fitful beams, 
Far beyond them, as in dreams, 
They can hear the distant boom. 

One can sense they're in a wood, 
For the acting is so good 
That it seems as though we stood 
Deep in forest with the boom. 

Almost can we see the trees 
Swaying in the winter breeze, 
Almost can we feel it freeze, 
List'ning to the hollow boom. 

Now the sound approaches nearer, 
Voices can be heard far clearer, 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

Till they fill the silent hearer 
With the echo of the boom. 

From the darkness on the right, 
Slowly filing into sight 
By the camp-fire's lurid light, 
Come the authors of the boom. 

Boom ! Boom ! Boom ! Boom 

The haunting gloom, 
Gloom, gloom, gloom, gloom, 

That seems to loom, 
Loom, loom, loom, loom, 

Foretells some doom, 
Doom, doom, doom, doom. 

Fuller now the chorus flows, 
Louder yet the booming grows, 
More and more the sound increasing, 
Though the words at last are ceasing ; 
But the booming still goes ringing, 
Through the wood its echo flinging. 
Though the tone is slowly dropping, 
And is gradually stopping, 
You can hear it ringing still, 
But it can no longer fill 
All the forest round, 
Yet its hollow sound 
Still is calling, 
Still is falling ; 
30 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

Still its note 
Seems to float 
And sound 
Around : 
Boom ! 
Boom! 
Boom! 

This introduced the troupe, 

Harmonious brigands, 

And the fire-lit group, 

Bedecked with ribands, 

Rouged, with their eyebrows black, 

Sang sweetly on and on. 

The hollow roof gave back 

Their ringing song. 

Their sense I could not tell, 

But in the tune 

Great sadness seemed to dwell. 

Some ancient rune 

Chanted by Northern wizard, 

Sung in a cave. 

Cold, cold blows the blizzard 

Freezing the wave. 

Rush dark clouds overhead, 

Dumb fly the birds ; 

Now is the time the dead 

Utter great words. 

Over the mountain side 

Mantle of snow, 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

Veil for the winter bride. 
Seek not to know 
All the weird mysteries 
Drawn from the moon, 
All the wild histories 
Locked in this rune. 

Across the silent snow between the pines 

There comes a shadow black that runs and whines, 

And on a hundred eyes the moonlight shines. 

Drive on ! Drive on the sledge 1 Let the whip crack 1 
Yet anxious eyes keep looking, looking back 
Where the dark shadow gathers on our track. 

Tirelessly galloping over the snow, 

Silent, implacable, galloping foe ; 

Watch how the horses plunge ! See the sledge go ! 

Speed ! Speed ! For the pack breaks into ^ry ! 
Speed ! Speed ! With the forest rushing by ! 
Speed ! Speed ! Speed till we seem to fly ! 

Now like a wave comes the crash of the pack. 
Dead are the horses. I fall on my back. 
Swiftly the white turns red. Then all is black. 

Then like an aurochs in the chase 
We hear the booming of the bass, 
While still the tenor floating clear 
Sings like a swallow through the air, 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

Mounting higher 1 higher ! higher I 
Like a golden flame of fire. 
Music we can understand, 
Folk-songs of a simple land. 

Item next, the mandolin, 
Played so delicately, neatly, 
While his fingers fly so featly, 
That our heart is won completely 
By the tong, tang, ting 
Of the tympanitic string. 

Artist of the mandolin 
Touching all the chords so lightly, 
Making music sound so sprightly ; 
Picking merrily and brightly 
From the strong, strung, string 
All the melody you fling. 

When the concert reached an end 
All the artists had a feast, 
Thoroughly enjoying life. 
For an hour they never ceased 
Plying busy fork and knife, 
Eating all the gods may send. 

See their faces growing bright 
As the bottles circulate 1 
Now they start again to sing, 

33 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

While their merry, mellow state 
To their voices gives a ring 
Of a jovial delight. 

Pass it faster ! Pass it round ! 
Quicker let the bottle fly ! 
For each jolly smiling face 
Somehow feels he's getting dry. 
Round and round the bottles race, 
Pass them round ! Pass them round 

Wilder, wilder now they shout, 
All their words fly out on wings. 
Out they send a robber band 
Which a willing captive brings. 
Hold him up ! Let him stand ! 
Sing a song, and sing it out ! 

Out again the raiders go, 
Bringing many captives in ; 
Each must make a speech or sing ; 
And a veritable din 
Through the church begins to ring. 
Pass the drink ! It moves too slow ! 

Standing up with naked legs 
We can see a little man, 
Dressed in nothing but a shirt, 
Singing loudly as he can. 
Drink it down, it will not hurt ! 
Drink it empty to the dregs ! 
34 



THE ARMENIAN CHURCH 

How they sing and how they shout ! 

Yet they never lose the tune, 

Drunk or sober no mistakes, 

An inestimable boon 

Is the harmony that makes 

AM the songs come gushing out. 

At last the voices die away, 
And one by one the lamps are dead, 
Till only one remains to light 
The gloomy roof above our head. 
Then that goes out and failing sight 
Drowses away, away, away. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, ii.v.i9i6. 



35 



THE CAPTIVE'S ABC 

IN a crowd more mixed than ever were drinks 
The verb " I sleep, Thou shoutest, He thinks " 
Is not very easy to conjugate. 
But don't put off learning the lesson too late ; 
For very slight practice will show that you can 
Loathe a man's habits and yet like the man. 

A man may seem lead with a heart full of gold, 
His veins may run lava, his face appear cold ; 
For facial expression's a matter of luck, 
And some who look timid are bursting with pluck. 
So learn the great lesson they teach in this school, 
" A man may be foolish and yet not a fool." 

A man may be clever and yet far from wise, 

A man may be stupid and yet may surprise 

By the sense he displays when another is ill. 

For it takes more than brains a man's nature to fill. 

So take it for granted there dwells in each man 

Some lesson you'll profit to learn : if you can. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, I2.v.i9i6. 



THE CUCKOO 

BELOW the group of rocks that crown 
The hill above this Turkish town, 
Across the roof-tops flat and brown, 
I heard a voice come floating down ; 
I heard a cuckoo cuckooing. 

I'd sell my soul, if but I could, 

To stand with Alice where we stood 

Among the hazels in the wood, 

And heard his song, an<f deemed it good 

To hear the cuckoo cuckooing. 

For in that other brighter May 
'Twas there we saw the nesting jay, 
And watched the squirrels at their play. 
It serves to light a captive's day 
To hear its echo echoing. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 17^.1916. 



37 



RUMOURS OF PEACE 

ABOVE the snow the faintest glow 
Tells that the polar darkness ends. 
The splendid sun his fight has won, 
And even now his message sends 
To say that winter's race is run. 
Oh ! hasten sun, be not too slow ! 

Now once again across the rain 

Hover the colours of the bow. 

The hanging shroud of thunder cloud 

Is melting, and the fields below 

Lift up the blossoms that they bowed. 

Shine out, brave sun, with might and main 

Upon our walls the sunlight falls 
And lightens every captive's breast. 
We see the beam and dare to dream 
That once again the world will rest. 
Shine on, bright sun, and send your gleam 
To glow into our statesmen's halls. 

Oh ! Wilson, you must know it true 
That if you lead the world to peace 



RUMOURS OF PEACE 

You'll crown your name with deathless fame : 
While we to whom you bring release 
Will sing your praise and count it shame 
To let a man belittle you. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, i.vi.i9i6. 



39 



THE STORKS 

ACROSS the cloudless sapphire of the day 
Long streams of storks go by in summer flight, 
Soaring in whirling spirals to a height 
From which again they glide and pass away, 
Drawn to the North by laws that they obey 
O'er land and sea, in spite of wind or rain ; 
While we wait on in impotent delay, 
Not even knowing whether once again 
The storks will leave us on their Southward course ; 
Still prisoners, still hoping for a date 
To mark upon our calendar with red. 
Captivity would lose its deadening force 
If there were but a day, however late, 
To cross our way to through the months ahead. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 3^1.1916. 



40 



THE GREAT OFFENSIVE 

IN this dim cloister of captivity 
We hear the echo of the Western world, 
The distant shouting of the masses hurled 
With shock that follows shock incessantly 
To break upon the trench as breaks the sea 
Where living waves lift up their force and fall 
With sounding crash upon the stubborn wall 
That must be shattered e'er we can be free 
Even to hope or pray for liberty. 
For liberty will be a bitter prize, 
Won at the cost of all this tragedy, 
If still the pain behind each mother's eyes 
Darkens with wondering if all her sons 
Must hear in turn the thunder of the guns. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 7.vii.i9i6. 



THE WIND IN THE PRISON 

CHIMNEY 

THE wind blows cold, the waters freeze, 
The plain is white with snow ; 
The branches shake in the bitter breeze, 
And I watch the darkness grow ; 
While the wind howls in the chimney : 
My feet are aching numbly : 
But my thoughts have flown to the hearts I own 
While the wind howls in the chimney. 

Lit by the leap of a dancing flame, 
I see a mother sitting, 
Teaching her baby its father's name, 
While her hands are busy knitting. 
And the wind howls in the chimney : 
The sentry's form looms dimly : 
But her thoughts of me fly far and free 
While the wind howls in the chimney. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 8.xii.i9i6. 



42 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

THE LANDING 

A BELL rang in the engine-room, 
And with the ceasing of the sound 
Small noises sprang to life all round. 
Across the water, in the gloom, 
We saw the coast like a long low mound. 

The water babbled along the hull, 
The scent of thyme was in the air, 
Borne from the shore just over there, 
And in that momentary lull 
To me the world seemed very fair. 

The sweetly-scented starlit hills 
Breathed of bees and summer flowers 
Dreaming through the midnight hours, 
While fate's slow-grinding mills 
Rolled their resistless powers. 

Suddenly shots rang out, and flashes 
Shattered the dark with stabbing stings, 
And bullets borne on whistling wings 
Rang on the hull, or made small splashes 
Like living, eager, evil things. 

43 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

TJien a rally of shots cut the air, 

A rattle, and then a shout ; 

And we who looked eagerly out 

Heard the roar of a British cheer, 

So we knew that the Yorkshires were there. 

Then at last it was our turn to land 

From the slow panting barge, crammed as tight 

As a theatre, and all full of fight 

We sprang out on the enemy strand, 

In the dark of that wonderful night. 

Deep in my mind and ever bright 

Remains that first impress of war ; 

The feeling of that foreign shore ; 

The sounds, the scents, and the starry night ; 

Fresh from that hour for evermore. 

The breath of the thyme that we crushed ; 
The bodies that lay as in sleep ; 
The noises that made our hearts leap 
When we thought we were going ~to be rushed 
As the slow-paced columns creep. 

The rumbling guns of Sed-ul-Bahr 
Roared and muttered, we heard the crash 
Of high explosive, and saw the flash 
That lit the hills with magnesium star 
To guard from a sudden dash. 
44 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

But these were all too far away 
To claim our wonder very long ; 
The glow in the east was waxing strong, 
And we knew that with dawning day 
We should join in the deep-voiced song. 

SHRAPNEL 

Out on the sunlit, bare hill-side, 
Above the sea, where the world looked big, 
We were caught by shrapnel and had to dig. 
Scourged with fear and helped by pride, 
Under the sky that seemed so wide. 

Hard, and stony, and stubborn ground, 
Bitterly hard, and slow to yield ; 
But the men dug in on that sun-scorched field, 
Crouched and dug and raised a mound, 
While the bullets whined like an eager hound. 

These are the signs of a modern hell : 
First the bang of the hidden guns, 
The droning tone of a shell that runs, 
Then the crack of the bursting shell, 
And puffs of dust where the bullets fell. 

Tufts of white on a clear blue sky ; 

Flecks of smoke like cotton wool, 

Pretty to watch, but their hearts are full 

Of pain and death that rains from high, 

And I watched with fear, but they passed me by. 

45 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

No one to shoot. Nowhere to go. 
Through all the digging there's time to think : 
Digging our graves on eternity's brink : 
Dig like the devil, yet time goes slow, 
And death we see, but never a foe. 

THE PAYMENT 

Over the hill where the breezes blow 

I wandered out as the sun sank low. 

I climbed the ridge where the trenches ran 

That guarded the coast when the fight began 

And the bay was blue below. 

Here, where the Yorkshires stormed the crest, 
Sleep the dead who had fought the best ; 
The foremost foes, whose hearts were large, 
And the fair-haired boy who led the charge, 
Under the summer sky at rest. 

Far away ; far away, 

Will fly the news of this fateful day. 

Far away in some English park 

Some woman waits in the growing dark 

To learn the price that she must pay. 

Far away ; far away, 

Some Turkish peasant whose beard is grey, 
Trudging home from his daily toil, 
Tired of tilling the sun-baked soil, 
Will learn that his son is clay. 
46 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

Here they lie where their work was done. 
I hear the cough of a distant gun ; 
The growling bass of an awful song. 
Dead they lie who were late so strong ; 
And each of the dead was some one's son. 

CHOCOLATE HILL 

Above the sea and above the plain, 
We stood on Lala Baba's side, 
And watched the battle while the strain 
Gripped our hearts with a sense of pain, 
But pain upheld by pride. 

With shrapnel bursting overhead 
We saw the troops move out below, 
Across the plain and the dry lake bed, 
Under the storm of screaming lead, 
Across in the evening glow. 

Extended order, line by line, 

Like toy tin soldiers on a board ; 

We felt with pride that the sight was fine 

To see those men move out in line 

While the enemy battery roared. 

The British cruisers in the bay, 

The monitors out at sea, 

Joined the battle from far away, 

Spat grim death from their sides of grey, 

And roared with a deep-voiced glee. 

47 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

The lake was white with crusted salt, 
The lines moved on and marched away, 
Moved out, moved on without a fault, 
Moved steadily on without a halt, 
Marched out as though to play. 

'Twas grand to see our own brigade 
Go marching onward, line by line, 
Steady and straight as on parade, 
Advancing on, all unafraid, 
By God ! the sight was fine ! 

The glow was fading from the sky 
When they plunged into the trees ; 
We heard the Maxim's rattling cry, 
And a British cheer, as the enemy fly, 
Came floating down the breeze. 

Then up and up to the big redoubt, 

Our guns have curbed their powers : 

Our fellows are turning the enemy out : 

Hark ! They're cheering ! We hear them shout 1 

And Chocolate Hill is ours. 

THE BRIGADIER 

News has come of the Brigadier ; 
At first we heard that he was dead, 
But a late report from the staff in rear 
Tells thai life is safe, though the shave was near, 
And he lost a leg instead. 
48 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

Out on the left, in a shifting fight, 
Through thorn and bracken as dry as straw, 
Where a man, once hit, sank out of sight, 
The enemy shells set the scrub alight, 
And Sam was there and saw. 

Right in the open where shells fell fast, 
He took his stand to direct the work ; 
The shrapnel bullets went screaming past ; 
But there he stayed till the very last, 
Too brave a man to shirk. 

Is it wise to be doing a junior's turn 
When so much depends on you ? 
Not at all. But to watch the wounded burn 
Is wisdom the English find hard to learn, 
And a damned poor wisdom too ! 

ON THE RIDGE 

The morning came of the second day, 
And we got orders to move away : 
Over the fields, across the dunes, 
We marched in column of platoons 
Up to the hills where the enemy lay. 

Not a sign, not a sound, not a single shot ; 

The men grew thirsty ; the sun was hot. 

On through the scrub in open line, 

We waited to hear the bullets whine : 

Is the enemy here or not ? 

D 49 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

The scrub was thorny, and thick, and dense, 
Stiff and thick as a quick-set fence ; 
Rocks and a deep-cut dry stream bed : 
They must be holding the ridge ahead ! 
Push on and end suspense. 

The top of the ridge was dark with thorn : 
A sergeant said, " 'Ave the beggars gawn ? " 
When : Bang ! Bang ! A crackling sound, 
And bullets piping all around, 
Like spirits that fly forlorn. 

The enemy fired from a higher crest, 
And we fought all day without a rest ; 
All day long we dug and fired, 
The work was hard, and the men grew tired, 
While the sun sloped to the west. 

Under the burning summer sun 

Thirst was bad, and the men were done. 

All day long the snipers sniped, 

All day long the bullets piped, 

And men dropped one by one. 

Over our heads the bullets flew 

With eerie whistle, Tiu ! Tiu ! Tiu ! 

Or the singing tone of a ricochet, 

A humming boom that dies away ; 

And at first they each seem straight for you. 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

All through the thirsty afternoon 

A couple of men from each platoon 

Carried the bottles to the spring. 

Off they'd go with a happy swing : 

But you send again if they don't come soon. 

For the enemy knew the day was hot ; 
The enemy snipers marked the spot. 
Those hellish snipers' hearts were hard, 
And they knew the range to a single yard, 
So we paid for water by getting shot. 

What a ghastly tragedy warfare seems I 
Here and there are heroic gleams ; 
But most of this dark and evil thing 
Is the blackest kind of murdering, 
Foul as a madman's vilest dreams. 

The sun sank low and the veil of night 
Was flecked with flashes and stabs of light, 
Each with its messenger of ill 
Speeding forth to maim or kill, 
Howling to join the fight. 

Late in the night an order came, 
Read by a carefully shaded flame : 
Without support we could not stay ; 
So we left our dead and came away 
From off that ridge without a name. 

51 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

Some five and twenty were left behind 

To keep on volleying for a blind ; 

While, more by instinct than by sight, 

We crept away in the black of night, 

And the rearguard managed our track to find. 

This to my friend who is lying there : 
You who were born to do and dare, 
Witness this tale of mine is true ; 
Remember I often think of you, 
If, where you rest, you know or care. 

HILL 971 

Short of water and blind for sleep, 

After that night the men felt done 

As we watched the dawn begin to creep ; 

But orders reached us on the run 

To move and take Hill nine seven one. 

By some mischance it reached us late, 
So we lost the dark of a precious hour, 
Lost first trick in the game with fate ; 
While against the sky the hill's black tower 
Loomed with a sinister sense of power. 

Time was short, and orders pressed ; 
D Company moved on alone, 
While the major stayed to bring up the rest, 
Across the fields where the bullets moan, 
Into the rough of tumbled stone. 
52 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

We marched across the twilit slopes, 
Eight officers and some seven score men ; 
It looked the most forlorn of hopes, 
And in my heart I wondered then 
How many would ever come back again. 

Two officers fell in the first half mile 
To dropping shots from the eastern flank, 
And sadly thinned were the rank and file 
When we breathed in cover a little while 
And left our packs on a rocky bank. 

Then up, up by the winding ways, 

Through streams of boulders and clumps of thorn ; 

The weary body its brain obeys ; 

And the men pushed up through the stony maze, 

Pushed on in the grey of dawn. 

Up ! Up I while the bullets sing. 
The fire comes faster as up we go ; 
Hitting the rocks with a vicious sting, 
Echo re-echo the gullies ring, 
And the plain looks flat below. 

The line grew thinner and straggled wide 
As one by one our fellows dropped 
To a flanking fire from either side ; 
But the rest climbed on like a flowing tide, 
And only the wounded stopped. 

53 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

Still up and up, yet higher and higher, 
Over the rocks, an endless climb, 
Under an ever-increasing fire, 
Hot with the glow of helpless ire, 
Lost to all sense of time. 

The enemy fired without a rest, 

From right, from left, from straight ahead ; 

The bullets sang like a hornet's nest, 

And swept our men from the open crest, 

Till many were wounded and most were dead. 

So we drew away and turned to go, 
For we only mustered about a score ; 
And we looked right down a mile below, 
Where the fight, like a moving picture show, 
Sent up a distant roar. 

Then down that dreadful mountain-side 
The Colonel went with broken pride, 
Finding a way with the handful left 
Where a gully cut a winding cleft 
That helped our path to hide. 

The Turks fired down on the beaten men : 
Half-way down we had shrunk to ten ; 
And they claimed as prisoners only five ; 
These were all who came out alive 
At the fool of that winding glen. 



54 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

EPITAPHS 

I. JAMES DINGLE 

Broad, and simple, and great of heart, 
Strenuous soul in a stalwart frame ; 
Whatever the work, he took his part, 
With energy strung from the very start 
To learn the rules and play the game. 

He played for an English side before ; 
And all unspoiled by the crowd's applause, 
He took for his side their greeting roar : 
And so in the greater game of war 
He gave his life for the greater cause. 

II. N. D. PRINGLE 

Not very strong, but straight and tall, 
A mild pursuer of simple joys, 
Loved by his pupils and liked by all, 
He left his desk at his country's call, 
Left quiet for ever who hated noise. 

A lover of children, a kindly soul, 
Who taught, by living, a gentle life, 
That death has crowned a gallant whole, 
He marched unfaltering to the goal, 
And rose, by dying, above the strife. 

55 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

III. STEPHEN JALLAND 

Cheery and mellow, and quick of wit ; 
Lovable too, with his twinkling eye, 
His wicked jest, and his caustic hit, 
A merry philosopher, full of grit, 
Whose fund of gaiety never ran dry. 

One of the best of companions true ; 

The happiest heart when things were bad ; 

Stephen, we often long for you 

To help our dull captivity through ; 

But, wherever you are, you can't be sad. 

IV 

Still with these, on the steep hill-side, 
Rest their friends and the men they led : 
Sleeping there, where they fought and died, 
Under the sky that spreads so wide, 
Under the stars that watch the dead. 

Over the hills round Suvla Bay, 

Where life was vivid, and swift, and strong, 

Memory lingers and loves to stay. 

Those I knew are not far away 

As I try to write their song. 

REQUIEM 

Around tne shores of Suvla Bay 

The larks are trilling their songs to-day ; 

56 



THE BALLAD OF SUVLA BAY 

The bees are humming about the thyme, 
And over the hills the shepherds climb ; 
For death's dark shadow has passed away. 

Here, where the hills were laced with scars, 
Where the stubborn trenches cut their bars, 
And the veil of night was torn by shells, 
The voice of the nightingale weaves its spells 
To win a smile from the list'ning stars. 

The lazy waves of the Southern sea 
Break on the beach in laughing glee 
Beneath the blue of the summer sky, 
And sea-gulls utter a cheerful cry, 
For the ships have gone and the bay is free. 

Mothers of those who are lying there, 
Know that their resting-place is fair, 
Fair and fresh as a Meld in May : 
The sunlight smiles on the dancing bay, 
So mourn no more for the sons ye bare. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 9-14.^.1916. 



57 



WITH THE REARGUARD 

THE mist crept down the shell-scarred hill, 
Crept down ; crept out across the plain 
The enemy trenches all were still, 
Our lashes dripped, and our cheeks were chill, 
For the creeping mist was wet as rain. 

Our line was thin as a line can be, 

A skeleton rearguard left behind 

To try and deceive the enemy, 

Or hold him back while the rest win free, 

And we prayed that the mist might keep him blind. 

If the mist once lifts our fate is sealed : 
We stay as an offering to the gods ; 
For if the retreat is once revealed, 
Whatever happens we may not yield, 
But fight to the death whate'er the odds. 

If all but one of us were slain, 
And if that one were wounded sore, 
And offered quarter in his pain, 
He must fight on and try to gain 
One minute more : one minute more. 
5$ 



WITH THE REARGUARD 

We hear the thud of moving men, 
More vibration than open sound ; 
Then it fades away, and once again 
We are left with one in the place of ten, 
With clinging blindness round. 

Without the glow of victory, 
Without the honour of a wreath, 
Without our friends of yesterday, 
With nothing left but memory, 
We wait for orders or for death. 

Is the enemy still sleeping ? 
What was that stealthy sound ? 
It seemed like some one creeping ! 
And the mist fills my eyes with weeping 
As I strain my gaze around. 

What if they know it already t 

Even now are preparing assault I 

We have nothing to do but stand steady, 

With our bayonets held at the ready, 

And die for another's fault. 

Still silence. Cold silence. And mist : 
With the strain on the eyes at its worst : 
And my rifle is freezing my fist. 
How long will this silence persist ? 
Will it last till my ear-drums burst ? 

59 



WITH THE REARGUARD 

Will it end with a savage rush, 
Swift shots, and a pain that's bad, 
Then oblivion, and out of the crush 
Into death ? Then what ? Is this hush 
Making me slowly go mad ? 

Will it end with a death all gory ; 
A martyr's fame, and a crown ; 
A place in old England's story ; 
A seat at the table of glory ; 
A brass in my native town ? 

Still silence. Cold silence. And mist : 
And dripping, and bitterly chilled, 
Cold splashes fall down on my wrist. 
When they make up to-morrow's list 
Shall we figure as missing, or killed ? 

And what of the enemy too ? 

I will bet that their list beats ours ! 

I reckon we'll settle a few 

Before they can break their way through. 

We can hold them for hours. 

What is this ? Oh ! We move. 
All right. I have passed it along. 
Gently behind there ! Don't shove ! 
The fog's getting thinner above ; 
It will clear before long. 
60 



WITH THE REARGUARD 

So we left in the mist and the cold : 
Ambition lay buried behind : 
And there in the ship as she rolled 
I thought of my comrades of old, 
And no hope did I find. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 9.^1.1916. 



HOPE 

OH, it's hard to seem fearless of death, 
And it's hard to be patient of pain ; 
It's hard to face danger with even breath, 
Or to carry a captive's chain. 
But harder than all, in a weary while, 
Is to face new hope with a steady smile. 

For many can front a defeat 

With a rigid, unshaken nerve, 

And many find strength with a smile to greet 

A great shock that calls up their reserve. 

But few can look straight with unblinking eyes 

At hope when it comes as a grand surprise. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, ig.x 



62 



DREAMS 

AS I lie a-sleeping, 
A-sleeping in my bed, 
Bright visions come a-leaping 
Like flames about my head. 
Summer lightning across the sky 
Changes never so swift as I ; 
Fleet adventure goes racing by, 
As I lie a-sleeping, 
A-sleeping in my bed. 

As I lie a-dreaming, 

A-dreaming all the night, 

Gay fantasies come teeming, 

Come riding into sight. 

Over the mountains, fair and free, 

Through the woods, and across the lea, 

Each with a merry smile for me, 

As I lie a-dreaming, 

A-dreaming all the night. 

Then off we go a-playing, 
A-playing through the world ; 
The hounds run a-baying, 
The banners are unfurled. 

63 



DAWN 

Far away on adventure high, 
Glitter and colour go flashing by, 
And all the stories end happily, 
For I'm a child a-playing, 
A-playing through the world. 



DAWN 

Dawn comes stealing up the sky ; 
One by one the stars go out ; 
Far away the shepherds shout ; 
Country carts go creaking by. 

In the yard the sentries call ; 
Rustling mice creep back to bed ; 
Sultan Dagh is touched with red ; 
Light shines grey upon the wall. 

Fading from my memory, 
Dreamland colours pale away ; 
All my world grows dull and grey ; 
Friends of the night, good-bye ! 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 23.xii.i9i6. 



64 



CHRISTMAS DAY 

YEARS ago. Years ago. 
Three years ago on Christinas day, 
Out in a forest far away, 
The monkeys watched me down below, 
And saw me hide in the waving grass 
While the elephant herd went trampling past. 
Oh, the great wild herd that Christmas day I 
And I as wild and free as they, 
As free as the winds that blow. 

Christmas day. Christmas day. 
Across the yard with footsteps slow 
The sentries pace the mud below ; 
The wind is cold, the sky is grey ; 
Christmas day in a prison camp, 
With freedom dead as a burnt-out lamp. 
The lions eat and the lions rage, 
Three steps and a turn in a narrow cage, 
And I am as free as they. 

Rich and poor. Rich and poor. 
Poor as a sparrow or rich as a king, 
This world can offer but one good thing, 
And my heart is sick to be free once more. 
E 65 



CHRISTMAS DAY 

For the sun may shine in a sapphire sky, 
But give me freedom or let me die : 
Free and fresh is the forest breeze 
Whose spirit rides on the tossing trees, 
And the waves break free on the shore. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 25.xii.i9i6. 



66 



THE PASSING OF 1916 

LL! toll, the passing bell ; 
Ring out the year I 
Toll for the dead who fell- 
Pel!, facing fear. 
Let solemn organs swell ; 
Toll on, your sounding knell ; 
Toll for the year. 
Toll for the passing year. 

Hear while the hollow boom 

Tells out the hour ; 
Black in the midnight gloom 

Stands the great tower ; 
Deep shades of passing doom 
Out in the darkness loom, 

Mourning their power. 

Tollh toll for all our dead, 

Ring out the year ! 
Toll for the tears we shed, 

Time draweth near. 
Toll while the year is sped, 
Passing with solemn tread ; 

Toll out the year. 

Toll out the dying year. 
AFION KARA HISSAR, 2y.xii.i9i6. 



WHEN ALL THIS IS OVER 

OH ! How will it feel to be free ? 
Oh 1 What will it seem like to see 
Through the shadows that hover ? 
Will it dazzle our atrophied sight ? 
Will it hurt to come out of the night ? 
Shall we dare to look straight at the light 
When all this is over ? 

Oh ! The wind that blows over the fen ! 
Oh ! The song of the shy willow wren ! 

And the cry of the plover ! 
Where the larks carol high in the blue, 
And the river winds lazily through ; 
Will they seem far too good to be true, 

When all this is over ? 

Oh ! The mothers who wistfully pray ! 
Oh ! The daughters who live for the Day, 

And long for their lover ! 
And the children who wait for their Dad ; 
All the hearts that have learned to be sad ; 
Can they bear to be suddenly glad, 

When all this is over ? 
68 



WHEN ALL THIS IS OVER 

Oh ! The freedom that sings in the breeze, 
When it rides on the crests of the seas, 

By the white cliffs of Dover ! 
Oh I The sea-gulls that scream as they fly, 
While the banks of the river glide by ! 
Let me live to see those, if I die 

When all this is over I 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 3i.xii.i9i6. 



TO EILEEN 

OBaby, my baby I never have seen, 
Don't grow too fast till I come home. 
When the birds make love and the hedges are green ; 
My ship will race through the roaring foam ; 
So wait awhile till I come home. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 8.11917, 



70 



IN THE WOODED CARPATHIANS 

THE sky was clouded, and the biting cold 
Crept like a shadow through the darkening 

pines, 

While all along the foremost fighting lines 
The sullen thunder of the rifles rolled. 
But, with the darkness, distances were lost ; 
The firing slackened till it died away, 
Waiting to wake again with dawning day. 
And with the night-fall came an iron frost, 
That silenced all the streams with crystal chains, 
Till in the stillness of that forest-place 
The pine-trees cracked in Winter's keen embrace, 
As ice crept slowly through their frozen veins. 
Then from his mountain home the wind rushed 

forth, 

And swept the clouds with him in wild career, 
While the dark forest moaned as though in fear ; 
And snow came driving swiftly from the north. 
The pines were blanketed in virgin white ; 
The blood-stains faded from the war-worn ground ; 
The snow fell steadily without a sound, 
And left no record of the human fight, 
Where men lay buried in the trench below. 



IN THE WOODED CARPATHIANS 

The dawn broke in a city far away, 
And people glancing through the news that day 
Grumbled because the war went on so slow, 
And cursed because the telegrams were short, 
" In the Carpathians : Nothing to report." 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 23.1.1917. 



72 



TO EILEEN, AGED ONE 

THE fairest prize the diver pearled 
Beneath the sunlight on the sea, 
little friend of all the World, 
Were not so beautiful to me, 
Nor yet the sapphire of the skies 
So welcome as your smiling eyes. 

The snow lay white upon your birth, 
But even purer than the snows, 

O little friend of all the Earth, 
Your dawning soul whose wonder glows 

So bright upon the face I see, 

And smiles across the World to me. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, y. 



73 



THE FOURTH MAN 

ON, and up, and over the hill, 
Across the rocks of the ridge ahead ; 
Weary to death, but watchful still, 

We struggled on with dragging tread. 
But where we should have been but three, 
A phantom fourth kept pace with me ! 

Our shoulders ached from the pressing pack, 

But life itself lay in the load ; 
Our hunted eyes kept glancing back, 

But no one trod our lonely road. 
Yet who is this with tireless stride 
Who keeps his place upon my side ? 

I watched him sidelong all that day, 
Wondering, if he would but speak, 

What message he would find to say, 
Or whom it was he came to seek. 

We struggled onward till we dropped, 

And where we halted, there he stopped. 

There, as we stretched ourselves to rest, 

One of the others turned and said 
74 



THE FOURTH MAN 

Some words to me, but he addressed 
Me by the name of one long dead. 
Then he who walked with us turned round, 
As though at some expected sound. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 15.11.1917. 



AFTER THE WAR 

WHAT will the changes be, after the war ? 
Nothing can ever be quite as before. 
Not the great movements of vast populations ; 
Not the new boundaries carved out for nations ; 
But the fresh balance of human relations. 
What will their future see, after the war ? 

Shall we be merciful, after the war ? 
Or shall we close our eyes, just as before ? 
Turn with distaste from the horrors of poverty ; 
Fingers in ears at the moaning of misery ; 
Preening ourselves that we battled for liberty ; 
Shall we be satisfied, after the war ? 

Can we be brotherly, after the war ? 
Kind to the broken, the wretched, the whore ? 
Not with a sense of our own vast disparity ; 
Not with a Pharisee's frost-bitten charity ; 
But with the warmth of a newer humanity ; 
Can we thus pay the World back for the war ? 

One thing seems certainty, after the war ; 

We shall see clearer than ever before. 

Under the paint of the clown in the pantomime ; 



AFTER THE WAR 

Under the rags of the tramp in the winter-time ; 
In the deep windows all pasted with soot and grime ; 
We shall see something that tells of the war. 

They, like ourselves, will have been through the war: 
Some doing less than we, some greatly more. 
Some facing death at their perilous station ; 
Some growing thin with a grim population ; 
Each of them part of a new-welded nation ; 
Worthy to eat of the fruits of the war. 

How can we ripen the fruits of the war ? 
Out of its whirlpool what prize can we draw ? 
We can be friends to the growing humanity, 
Built on the rocks of the old Christianity, 
Training our eyes to look forward with sanity 
Through the dark veil that is reft by the war. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 3.^.1917. 



77 



THE LITTLE OWL 

IN the dark, when quiet reigns, 
Through the night, while all is still, 
While silence broods upon the plains, 
I hear you hooting on the hill. 
Though the snow lies over all, 
Spring is in the note you call. 

Weird and wild the song you sing, 
Passing by with silent flight, 
Calling to the coming Spring 
Through the darkness of the night. 
First are you of birds to know 
Love comes swift behind the snow. 

Welcome to your hopeful song, 
For the message that you bring. 
Were old Winter twice as strong, 
Yield he must before young Spring ; 
As the bitter night of sorrow 
Flies before the sun to-morrow. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 9.^1.1917. 
78 



SPRING AND HARVEST 

IN Autumn late, when fields were brown, 
I watched a man in a hooded cap 
Casting seed on the earth's cold lap. 
Across the field, and up, and down. 
He swung his arm, and cast the grain, 
With faith that life would rise again. 

Oh ! Black and hard was Winter's frost, 
Smooth and white was the lifeless snow, 
While the grain lay fast asleep below ; 

Lay and dreamed that the sun was lost, 
Nor felt the Winter's freezing breath 
As it lay in sleep as still as death. 

The world sped on, and the sun crept north ; 
Soft rain swept by in a ghost of grey, 
And the wheat awoke again one day, 

Thrusting its spearheads boldly forth, 
Till all the brown was charmed to green, 
And life shone bright where death had been. 

When I who watched this wondrous thing, 
Who live a life more dull than death, 
Who sleep, and eat, and draw my breath, 

79 



SPRING AND HARVEST 

When I look out and see the Spring, 
I wonder when the race of men 
Will wake to wisdom once again. 

For deep and wantonly we've sown, 
And wide have cast our very best. 
But can it be that those who rest 

Can die in truth until we've grown 
The crop for which their lives were lent, 
And harvested where they were spent ? 

The harvest of their sacrifice 
Must crown the winter of their pain 
Before they turn to dust again ; 

Then, well content to pay the price, 
Dissolve into the deathless whole, 
Made nobler by their dauntless soul. 

Deep in our soil their seed is set, 
Deep in the hearts of us who live ; 
Trusted to us that we may give 

Fulfilment to their harvest yet, 
That those who gave their lives may gain 
The one reward that crowns their pain. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 3.^.1917. 



So 



NOBLESSE OBLIGE 

IF you have a cool swift brain that never hurries, 
Then you should hide 
From all the world outside, 
From the poor old muddling world with all its worries, 

Your certain pride ; 

Lest, in desire that men should deem you great, 
You earn not love, but hate. 

If you have eyes that see, an ear that hearkens, 

Then you should share 

All that you see and hear, 

Pluck flowers from your mind for those whom dumb- 
ness darkens, 

Whose joys are rare, 
And give them to the dull, and deaf, and blind, 

For love of humankind. 

For in those struggling minds are dimly muttered 

Their deep confession, 

Sad in its dumb suppression, 
Thoughts just as wide and deep as those you've uttered, 

And their expression 
Wants but the words to loose the things they see, 

The things that you set free. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 5.^.1917. 
F 81 



LETTERS FROM HOME 

HOPE, like a swallow flying free, 
Comes seeking me from the West : 
War on the hills and war at sea 
Have both conspired to sunder me 

From all that I love the best. 
But hope comes flying fast and free, 

And the object of her quest 
Is to blow the spark of liberty 
That smoulders in my breast. 

So wake my heart, for the world is young, 

The April sunlight beams ; 
The sweetest songs are not all sung, 

And the dullest day has gleams ; 
For the bells of peace will yet be rung 

When hopes are not all dreams. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 6.^.1917. 



A PRISONER'S SONG 



/^OULD I only go a-swimming 
V> Where the rollers hit the reef, 
Where the rock-bound pools are brimming, 

I could wash away my grief. 
Could I only go a-swimming 

Where the wild sea horses roll, 
All that prison is a-dimming 

Might win back into my soul. 

Could I hear the monkeys calling 

In the forest, all alone ; 
Could I see the torrent falling, 

Mist and thunder, on the stone ; 
Could I hear the jungle calling, 

Where the storm-torn boughs are tossed, 
I would soon forget the galling 

Of the years that I have lost. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 27.viii.i9iy. 



BEYOND THE WALLS 

THERE are days on end when I live apart, 
Beyond the walls : beyond the walls : 
In the wider world of my inner heart, 
Beyond the sound of the sentry's calls. 

I live alone in a land of dreams, 
Beyond the walls : beyond the walls : 

And I sing where the summer sunlight's beams 
Spin rainbows round the waterfalls. 

But the day will dawn when the dreams come true, 
Beyond the walls : beyond the walls : 

Once more, my love, I shall live with you, 
Nor ever again hear the sentry's calls. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 27.viii.i9i7. 



84 



RELEASE 



LET me out and away from this town where en- 
deavour is dead, 
Where the horrible houses are crumbling, whence 

freedom has fled ; 
Where mental stagnation grows stale, and the rays of 

the sun, 
Staring down, can find nothing achieved, and but little 

begun. 
Let me leave this dull prison of hope e'er its captive has 

died, 
To go out on the hills, where the earth and the air are 

still wide. 
I will lie on the turf, and feel life moving under my 

hand; 
I will watch the small creatures that burrow their 

homes in the sand ; 
I will breathe the sweet freshness of earth, all unspoiled 

by the town ; 

I will follow the shadows of clouds racing over the down. 
For the tiniest flower that peeps out to find Winter has 

fled 
Is worth more than a huddle of houses whose timber 

is dead ; 



RELEASE 

And the hum of the bees who hang hovering over its 

bell 

Is the song of a joy that my language is useless to tell. 
Oh, give me one chance to be free, were it but for a day ; 
Let the penalty even be death, I am willing to pay. 

II 

When he woke on the slope of the hill, he was lying 

alone, 
So he turned, and he looked to the west, where the 

boulders were strewn, 
And saw clouds like a cowl drawn across from the 

face of the moon, 

While the shadows all hurried away and hid, each by 
a stone. 

Then once more to his body came stealing the presence 

of pain, 
And the fire of his wound drove a pulse of red flame 

through his blood, 
Till consciousness came with the rush of a turbulent 

flood, 

And remembrance of all that had happened crept back 
to his brain. 

It was hopeless to move, so he lay and looked over the 

hill, 
While the shades that stole out from the stones as 

the moon sank to rest 
86 



RELEASE 

Gathered round him and pointed their silent dark 

hands at his breast, 

Till the night was all shadowy menace, all horror and 
chill. 

Then far in the valley below him was uttered a cry, 
And the voices of men on the move, and the sound 

of their feet 
Hurried over the hill, and passed on, and he heard 

the dull beat 
Of the hoofs of a body of horse that went cantering by. 

When the footsteps and voices were gone, as he looked 

at the stars, 
Came a feeling that told him he stood on the 

threshold of death ; 
But an hour on the slope of the hill, where he 

breathed the earth's breath, 

Held more life than the years he had lived while he 
looked through the bars. 

For he knew in his soul it were better to die on the 

slope 
Than again to be cast in the bondage he'd suffered 

for yean, 
So he welcomed the wound that it opened a door for 

his fears 

To fly out through the portals of pain, and make room 
for new hope. 



RELEASE 

Then the eye of the morning was opened to look on the 

earth, 
And the gold of the sunlight crept down to the place 

where he lay ; 
But his eyes opened wide to a glory more splendid 

than day, 

For he knew that he stood at the gate, not of death, 
but of birth. 

AFION KARA HISSAR, 15^.1918. 



88 



THE DOOR 

MY poetry has been to me a door, 
Not to be opened always when I would ; 
For obstinately fastened it has stood, 
Till I have feared it would not open more. 
Then have I wakened in the lonely night, 
And found it wide, and passed straight through the wall 
Out to the forest where the hornbills call ; 
Where trees reach up their faces to the light, 
And, spreading, strive in noble rivalry 
To make more beautiful their woodland home. 
There have I wandered, free among the free, 
Until the time to close the door has come ; 
And like a shadow I have turned and passed, 
Still hopeful I shall live beyond at last. 

AFION KARA HISSAX, 27.11.1918. 



PART II 

WOODCRAFT AND FOREST 
LORE 



FEAR IN THE FOREST 

ALONE upon a wooded hill I lay, 
Beneath a pale blue sky, where swifts did fly, 
And listened while the voices of the day 
Rose from the rustling woods and mounted high. 
The talk of monkeys, and a whistling bird, 
The tireless tolling of the barbel's bell, 
The singing of the insects that I heard, 
Had no strange tale to tell. 

Then far away I heard a sambhur stag 
Blurt sudden challenge in the plain beneath, 
And at his signal 'twas as though a flag 
Warned the whole forest of the walking death. 
For, stealing through the woods came silent fear, 
Its path betrayed before its footsteps passed ; 
And soon the belling of the spotted-deer 
Told that it travelled fast. 

The lower regions of the list'ning hill 
Next gave their signal of that moving dread, 
The squirrel's indignation ringing shrill, 
Thrilling his warning through the woods ahead, 
Hanging head downward in his frantic wrath, 
With throat pulsating, while a chain of sound, 

93 



FEAR IN THE FOREST 

In high-pitched clinking, link by link sped forth, 
The squirrel cursed the ground. 

Still, of the thing itself that came so fast 
I heard no single sound of voice or tread ; 
Only each signal station, as it passed, 
An urgent message through the forest sped. 
And next the monkeys, close below my stone, 
Hooted in fury, dashing to and fro, 
And in the frightened forest I alone 
Knew not what passed below. 

On soundless pad there passed that silent fear, 
Around the wooded contour of the hill, 
While in a glade below piped loud and clear 
A plover's cry denouncing it as ill. 
Down in the woods a nervous muntjak barked ; 
A crane rose squawking from a hidden pond ; 
And floating far I heard new sounds that marked 
Fear in the plain beyond. 



94 



THE LOTUS POOL 

WHEN daylight voices of the darkening woods 
Have died away, and happy silence broods, 
While the dark creatures of the night still sleep, 
Then may one almost hear the shadows creep. 

The running water ripples on the rocks ; 
The singing herd boys driving home their flocks 
Adown the mellow afterglow of day 
Sound clear, and very small, and far away. 

Qothed round by leafy forest in a ring, 
The laughing waters of the little spring 
Babble their song and plunge into a pool, 
Bestarred with lotus lilies white and cool. 

And in that magic hour the maiden chose 
To linger where the tiny streamlet flows ; 
But all the time she thought herself alone, 
The hidden fairies watched behind a stone. 

Secure from any roving human eye, 
She broke the mirror of the glowing sky, 
And flowing water's silver veil made dim 
The lovely lines of every shapely limb. 



THE LOTUS POOL 

The water lilies closed their starry eyes, 
And when the water felt with mild surprise 
The burning love that filled her veins with fire, 
The swallows changed their course and circled higher. 

Then, as the colours faded from the day, 
Even the fairies softly stole away, 
And left her in that cloister of the wood 
All clothed in purity and maidenhood. 



IN THE FOREST 

THE leaves were singing softly overhead, 
Fluttering lightly in the evening breeze, 
When down the shady tunnel of the trees 
A thirsty leopard came on silent tread. 
The monkeys hooted, and the squirrels shrilled, 
The spotted-deer were belling in the glade ; 
But in the sand beneath the marbled shade 
He dug a hole and waited while it filled. 
Watchful and wary, while his steadfast gaze 
Probed the deep shadows of the forest round, 
This lovely terror of the jungle ways 
Stood waiting there without a single sound 
Until the water filtered through at last, 
Then, still in silence, to the shades he passed. 



97 



HEARD ON A HILL 

A FTER the rain had ceased, the clouds moved slow, 
JiV Sweeping between the shoulders of the hills ; 
While all the music of the mountain rills 
Came floating from the valleys far below. 
The rhododendrons dropped their lovely flowers, 
Who found new splendour where the fallen blooms 
Caught in the tangle of the mosses' plumes, 
And lent them lamps to light their fairy bowers. 
Then from the woods below there rushed a cry, 
As though some giant hunting horn were wound : 
Wild and exultant rang the pealing sound, 
Its echo rolling from the cliffs around, 
Where some great elephant triumphantly 
Flung forth a challenge to his enemy. 



RAIN 

THE woods were hushed and very still from dawn. 
Once and again the nervous peafowl squalled, 
And once, from bough to bough, the monkeys called 
Across the tree-tops, dismal and forlorn. 
The birds were silent in the growing heat. 
I heard the deer move by with rustling feet. 
Stirring the leaves upon the forest floor. 
'They passed me voiceless, and I heard no more 
But distant thunder's deep vibrating growl, 
Rumbling upon the mountains in the north, 
Whose head was veiled behind an inky cowl, 
With diamond points of lightning flashing forth. 
Over the slopes I heard it rolling slowly : 
In grand procession down across the plain 
The storm moved on, and then I saw how holy 
The thirsty forest held the falling rain. 
It was as though the trees awoke and prayed. 
And there I wondered, while the thunder thundered, 
Why, like the forest, men had never made 
A god of rain. It seemed to me they blundered 
In making thunderstorms march forth to fight : 
Rain should have been God's tears of pure delight. 



MONKEYS 

THE boughs above the stream are slowly stirring ; 
The waters lap and flow, 
The shadows down below 
Melt where the liquid slope goes gently purring 
Above its bed of stones. 
I hear the murmuring of almost human tones : 
Low secret tones, the water's voice is blurring. 
And while I strain my ear, I seem to hear 
The voices of an age preceding man's ; 
Soft conversation in the branches near, 
And muttered monosyllables discussing plans : 
Sub-human language, at the early end 
Of history, and a million years before ; 
Voices of which I only apprehend 
The mystery, but fail to follow more. 
For they who stir the branches do not know me ; 
They move among the trees, and only show me 
Their outer life, and hide its secret core. 



100 



THE HORNBILL 

OUT in the solemn wilderness alone, 
Where ghosts of ages sleep, 
And shadows creep, 

From mossy bole to bole, from stone to stone, 
Just as they crept a thousand years before ; 
Where you may hear the wind arise and moan, 
Whisper and sigh, and sink to rest once more, 
In that dim place, 

I heard a sudden hollow laughter peal, 
The merriment of some inhuman race, 
Who seemed to steal, 

On velvet padded feet from shade to shade, 
Watching me, mocking me, just out of sight ; 
For when I turned to look, they laughed again, 
Though nothing stirred, except the secret flight 
Of one large bird, 

Who disappeared among the deeper trees. 
Then, from afar, re-echoed down the breeze 
That wicked demon laughter I had heard. 



IOX 



THE LONG-TAILED ROBIN 

AMONG the underbrush I hear you, 
Softly piping, and so sweetly trilling, 
While the darkening woods are slowly filling 
With the melody that ever hovers near you, 
Welling on, swelling on, as you sing, as you ring, 
And now I hear the flutter of your wing, 
While yet another thicket bursts in voice, 
Tender and wistful tones that seem half sad, 
Rounded and mellow notes that sound all glad, 
And be you sad or glad I must rejoice 
While your clear voice 
Pours on, and still has powers 
To sing the feelings of the silent flowers. 



102 



THE LORIS 

IN the forest, in the moonlight, 
When the boughs are lacing black against the sky. 
And all the stirrings of a tropic night 
Encompass me with magic out of sight, 
I hear your thin weird cry : 
I sense you passing by. 
Softly and silently your tiny palms 
Qeave to the bosses of your secret way, 
On where the bearded moss hangs thick and grey, 
Up where the silver moonlight glints and charms, 
You slowly creep, 
While the geckos cheep, 
And your enemy, the owl, on silent wing, 
Sweeps through the dusky passes of the trees ; 
Sweeps and is gone, while the cicadas sing. 
And still your fretful wailing haunts the breeze 
That soughs among the tree-tops where you weep. 
Good-night, my little kinsman, I must sleep. 



BEARS 

LYING upon a rock beneath the moon, 
Through the dark trees I heard a whining cry 
Call from the woods near by, 
A fretful, childish whimpering, and soon 
I heard a rustling on the forest floor, 
While close at hand the cry broke out once more, 
The plaintive wailing of a baby ailing, 
And the rough mother's gruff enough reply. 
Footsteps and voices of a fiercer race, 
Close by my hiding-place, 
Shuffling among the leaves so crisp and dry, 
Passed on their thirsty way 
Down to the hollow where the water lay. 



104 



JACKALS 

IN the glades where the grass is dying, 
Grey in the twilight : 
Silver in the moonlight : 
I can hear the jackals crying. 
Full misery is in their haunting tone, 
As though by them in all the world alone 
Were borne the burthen of the dying spring, 
Almost too sad to sing ; 
A dreary, melancholy, long-drawn moan, 
Growing in volume while it swells, 
In wild cacophony of yells, 
Burst from a hundred hells, 
Calling, howling, clamouring again, 
Claiming delivery, proclaiming pain, 
To final savage ecstasy of hate. 
Then it breaks short and stops : 
And silence comes amain. 



105 



THE CLIFF OF WINGS 

THE face of the painted cliff is high. 
Dark is the forest far below. 
I see a speck in the western sky, 
A moving speck on the sunset's eye ; 
And the peregrine whirrs as he flashes by. 
1 Fly fleet swallows ! 
Speed on the wings of light ! 
Swift your wings, and the feathers roar, 
As down from the upper caves you pour. 
Scream ! Scream in your wild delight ! 
Scream with joy in the maddening race, 
As you pour your cataracts into space ! 
And the echo sings to the whirr of wings, 
That cleave the air of this splendid place. 
For the sinking sun sees your place of birth, 
Half-way to heaven and high above earth. 



106 



BAMBARA-GALA 

THE rock looks down on the woods below, 
Green, and bronze, and red, and grey ; 
And the sun sinks down at the end of day 
Behind the hills, in a molten glow. 
Gold, and copper, and crimson sheen, 
With a pale-blue lake of sky between ; 
Till the west grows cool, and the woodland pool 
Mirrors the rock in a ring of green. 
It lies on the pool where the fishes splash, 
Their rippling circles rolling wide, 
Dead and grey as a thing of ash, 
A jutting tooth on the mountain-side. 

This is the time to climb the steep ; 

Up through the shadowy woods to grope ; 

Over the stones where the lichens creep ; 

On, to the crag that crowns the slope ; 

To the wild bees' stronghold hushed in sleep. 

Very silent and soft are our feet, 

As we cling to the ledge ; 

Very soft and slow, as we look below, 

From the narrow edge, 

And feel the rock's radiant heat 

Give back the sunset's glow. 

107 



BAMBARA-GALA 

Under the shelf where the combs point down, 

They hang in sheets of shimmering brown, 

In moving banners above our head ; 

And the place is sharp with their acrid breath, 

And tense with the sense of lurking death, 

Where the tree-tops wait to catch the dead. 

Even in sleep you hear them humming, 

Softly, gently, deep, and low ; 

A murmuring song that seems to grow 

Into a distant muffled drumming ; 

Myriads of sleeping bees, 

Dreaming of the flowery trees. 

Be not restless lest you shake them ! 

Silence, while the evening breeze 

Passes by, across the sky ; 

Bear in mind that, if you wake them, 

You must die. 



108 



BY SINKING-GARDENS 

BY Sinking-gardens the woods are still ; 
For this is an enchanted place, 
Unhaunted by the human race, 
A secret hollow in the hill, 
A misty garden, green and damp, 
Where flowers burn bright upon the swamp, 
And wanton glow-worms light their love-lorn lamp. 

By Sinking-gardens the birds pipe low, 

And rustle on the leaf-strewn ground. 

Like ruined pillars stand around 
Old rotting logs where orchids grow. 

Deep in the valley of the stones, 

You hear the river where it moans, 

And sombre monkeys' melancholy tones. 

On Sinking-gardens the flowers are bright : 
They haunt the woods with honeyed smells, 
And turn their tiny coloured bells 

Like pilgrim faces to the light. 
But deep below their carpet spread 
There lie the bones of all the dead 
Who loved the dainty blossoms overhead. 

109 



BY SINKING-GARDENS 

On Sinking-gardens our steps are slow. 

Tread gently on that spangled green, 

That smiling face which looks so clean, 
For slime is bottomless below. 

Tread light, and soft, and tenderly ; 

Pluck swift, and sure, and warily ; 

Lest the flowers bloom more wistfully, for thee. 



no 



WAVE-AWAY-STONES 

WAVE-A WAY-STONES are bright and wet, 
And the water swirling past 
Leaps at the feet that are lightly set, 
But the feet fly by too fast. 

Above the stones, and below the stones, 

The waters foam and shout ; 
But over their hungry roar the tones 

Of the children still ring out. 

Ring out, sing out like a silver reed 

In the music of a dream, 
Where the surging song of the waters freed 

Is the organ of the stream. 

The dripping ferns have lent their tongue, 

The clusters of wild bamboo 
Sway their heads to the song that's sung, 

Where the water charges through. 

Wave-away-stones are bright and wet, 

And the leaping waves are strong ; 
But they have not caught the children yet, 

And the children love their song. 

in 



WAVE-AWAY STONES 

When you grow old and your hair turns grey, 

Adventurous children three, 
Look back with smiles where the waters play, 

And sometimes think of me. 



112 



THE DAWN-CHILD 

WHILE in a wilderness of woods I lay 
My counterpane of stars was drawn away, 
And there upon the breast of drowsy earth 
I watched the tresses of old Night turn grey. 

The eastern hills were rimmed with saffron light, 
And on their ridge, in burning robes bedight, 
The Dawn-child with his rounded, rosy cheeks 
Blew on the embers in the camp of Night. 

Down in the valley of the sleeping lake, 
Below the mist, I heard a heron wake ; 
The startled challenge of a sambhur stag 
Belled from the dripping tangle of the brake. 

Then all the jungle cocks awoke and crew, 
While still the Dawn-child at his camp-fire blew, 
Until the monkeys huddled on the boughs 
Hooted and shook upon me showers of dew. 

Night moved away before triumphant morn 
Decked in the gold his dying sire had worn ; 
But still the deeper secrets of the wood 
Were clothed in shadows from her mantle torn. 

H 113 



THE DAWN-CHILD 

The Dawn-child's footsteps on the sky gave birth 
To roses where they pressed, and from the earth 
Sprang dewy scents as blossoms oped their eyes, 
And steam from camp-fires,, and a song of mirth. 



114 



SONG OF THE MOSQUITOES 

THERE were reeds and lotus beds not far from 
camp; 

And mosquitoes were so thick, 
That the very air seemed quick, 
As they danced a dizzy halo round my lamp. 

Where they spired like singing smoke above the swamp, 

I could hear their cheerless song 

Of the doom that smites the strong, 
And Malaria, the demon of the damp. 

When the elephant, the leopard, and the bear 

Move away before mankind, 

The mosquitoes stay behind, 
Fanning fever through the circles of the air. 

Great King, who fifteen centuries ago, 

Where the lilies now grow rank, 

Built your palace by the tank, 
Did you think to fall before so mean a foe 1 

Did you dream, in all the splendour of your pride, 
That your city, with its wall, 



SONG OF THE MOSQUITOES 

To the wilderness would fall, 
Breathing poison from its waters far and wide ! 

For the power of man is nothing, after all : 
And the glory of his state, 
Though it stand before the great, 

Must go down before the infinitely small. 



xi6 



THE BRIDGE OF TIME 

THE old forgotten town lies wrapped in woods ; 
From roofs, and floors, and walls great trees 
are sprouting ; 

Where princes played, the pea-hen leads her broods ; 
And choirs have sung where Wanduru are shouting. 

The lake that once poured life into the plain, 
Now breeds but fever in its swampy shallow ; 
And where the temples saw their towers again, 
Their hollow windows watch the wild swine wallow. 

Out from the ruined sluice there slowly crawls 
A sluggish-moving stream, half choked by sedges, 
That snake-like winds along the crumbling walls, 
And hides the coots that nest about its edges. 

Into the wilderness of woods it flows, 
Until all semblance of a stream has perished, 
And in its bed unstinted forest grows, 
Where nothing tells the schemes that men had 
cherished. 

Here stands the bridge ; built out of old grey stone, 
Half hidden by the mantle of the grasses ; 

117 



THE BRIDGE OF TIME 

Linked by no road ; used but by time alone, 
Whose silent footsteps through the forest passes. 

And where time's feet pursue their tireless track, 
This old forsaken milestone of the ages 
Has still the power to guide my footsteps back 
With speed that takes the centuries as stages. 

.Your road, old bridge, is gone ; your stream is dead ; 
The stone that crowns your arch will soon be rotten : 
No longer now you point the way ahead, 
But ease our path to ages long forgotten. 

Memory flows more swift beneath your arch 
Than ever flowed the water silver gleaming, 
And he whose feet upon your roadway march 
May find the path that leads from now to dreaming. 



118 



THE RUINED CITY 

A LITTLE jungle child once guided me 
Into a forest-covered ruined town, 
Where, on a broken pillar lying down, 
Fell the dark shadow of a huge old tree. 

Letters were cut upon its granite side ; 
An edict ringing with the splendid boast 
Of some great king whom memory has lost, 

Now lying broken in forsaken pride. 

Thus ran the words of that forgotten king : 
" So long as earth, and sun, and moon endure, 
Let no man dare from now for evermore 

To slight this edict in the smallest thing." 

But in his city by the shining lake, 
Where he had deemed his law might fitly stand, 
Wild were the woods that spread on every hand, 

And none were left his laws to guard or break. 

Even the forest beasts were not more blind, 
More ignorant of all those old decrees, 
Than my small guide who lived among the trees 

With half a hundred of his kin and kind. 

119 



THE RUINED CITY 

Our ways and wonderings were each our own ; 
For while he scanned the woods with restless eyes, 
With ears and nostrils wide against surprise, 

I rested pondering upon the stone. 

For he was thinking through his ears and nose ; 
While I was dreaming of a long-dead fear : 
He caught the sounds and scents that floated near, 

And I the battle-cries of ancient foes. 

The wild ixora blossoms glowing red, 

The wild white jasmine's garlands twining wide, 

Bowered in beauty the deserted pride 
Of that forsaken city of the dead. 

Here where the garnered wealth of centuries 
Had long lain stored in temple and in tower, 
Wild desolation reigned since savage power 

Swept like a storm of God across the seas. 

Before the fierce invaders of the North, 
Glory and beauty faded as the grass 
Fades where a myriad swarm of locusts pass, 

And left a writhing wilderness of wrath. 

Here mutilated men had screamed and died ; 
Women had slain themselves for biting shame, 
Too broken to excuse what had no name, 

Too sick to live, bereft of women's pride. 

I2O 



THE RUINED CITY 

I seemed to hear the drums' deep thundering, 
The trump of elephants, the fighting hosts, 
The wood's dark corridors seemed thronged with 
ghosts 

Who gathered round me, watching, wondering. 

Far, far in time, yet in a manner near, 
There came to me a vision of the past, 
Gathered, may be, from some who found at last 

Way to express the loss they felt so dear. 

As night's dark shadow swept across the world, 
When Buddha's rays were melting from the sky, 
Over the city solemn herons cry 

" Wake, for the cloak of darkness is unfurled 1 " 

Wake, people of the night, and claim your hour. 
Abbot and prince must tremble for their wealth, 
While their defenders move away by stealth, 

And anarchy usurps the place of power. 

Lone with the howling of deserted dogs, 
Who fouled the rooms where queens had lain of late, 
The city's streets lay void and desolate, 

Where crowds of ghosts passed by like drifting fogs. 

Huge crocodiles, with ruthless marbled eyes, 
Watched the dark jungle creep along their shore ; 
They saw the city die away once more, 

Even as in their youth they saw its rise. 

121 



THE RUINED CITY 

Born of the forest, wood, and stone, and clay, 
The city lived its life like any man, 
Without fulfilling half its widening plan ; 

Grew to its greatest strength, and passed away. 

Soon, in the empty palace, painted walls 
Echo the belling of the startled deer, 
And as their leader stamps in sudden fear, 

His footstep hollow on the pavement falls. 

Flowers once bloomed where now they crop the grass, 
Stepping as daintily as though on wings, 
In bitter mocking of bygone kings, 

Who, from these windows, watched their horsemen 
pass. 

The troops of monkeys hoot among the trees, 
And cast their refuse on the marble floors, 
Scared by the hollow boom of wooden doors 

That slam behind the ghosts who ride the breeze. 

The clustered sculptures ranged about the dome 
Of each old temple, bowered in forest green, 
That marks the monument of some great queen, 

Offer to hornets an abiding home. 

When moonlight gleams upon the high old walls, 
And shadowed courts seem fraught with mystery, 
All the deep secrets of their history 

Are whispered by the wind through empty halls. 

122 



THE RUINED CITY 

Here, where the temples crumble stone by stone, 
Yielding before the forest more and more, 
The confidence of culture melts in awe, 

Lest such a fate as this may be our own. 

For, in the story of that ancient race, 
The causes of their ultimate decline 
Are plain to read for those who would divine 

How ruthless fate moves on with steady pace. 

And, looking at that little jungle child, 
As free and naked as a baby bear, 
I wondered whether some far future year 

Would find my own descendants just as wild. 

Perhaps in that far distant day some sage 
May trace the seeds of ultimate decay, 
Growing relentlessly, despite delay, 

Through all the glory of our present age. 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

THE LAND 

A BOUNDLESS plain that spreads from sky to 
^\ sky, 

Where dappled clouds are floating in the blue ; 
A boundless forest showing every hue 
Of green and grey, of green and brown, and green. 
The scattered little hills that once have been 
The homes of hermits in days long gone by, 
And now are homes of porcupines and bears, 
Whose playground in the rocks is snug and dry. 
Happy is he who casts away his cares, 
To plunge into the jungle for a change, 
A transmigration to another age, 
Where all is wonderful, but nothing strange, 
For all is painted on some former page ; 
In some great record of the common past 
We share with nature, and rejoin at last. 

THE RIVER 

The river running through the tunnelled trees, 
Murmurs among the boulders with delight 
To find the wood so green, the sun so bright, 
Where, smiling through the interlacing leaves, 
Over the running stream a web he weaves 
124 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

Of light and shade that shimmers when the breeze 

Tosses the tangled branches overhead. 

Far through the whispering woods the river flees, 

Feeding the forest, by the forest fed ; 

In form eternal, and in self the same, 

Though ever changing, never standing still ; 

Not giving birth, not dying, with no aim 

To win and die, no destiny to fill, 

But to flow on and on and evermore 

Into the summer sea its life to pour. 

THE TREES 

The trees in endless ranks and armies stand, 

Fighting a battle that was first begun 

When little feeble arms yearned for the sun, 

And stretched toward him, thrusting to the side 

The tiny rivals of their mighty pride 

In endless warfare, on a scale so grand 

That their eternal patience seems sublime. 

For through long centuries each tree has planned 

To reach the light, and climb, and climb, and climb 

Out of the lower world of gloom and shade, 

Up through the struggle of the growing boughs, 

Into the light among the splendid band 

Of those who have accomplished all their vows. 

And there to live, and die, and rot, and fall, 

Till once more re-absorbed into the AIL 

THE ROCKS 

Deep in the forest there are rocky caves, 
Haunted by hermits in those ancient days 

"5 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

When first men faltered in the misty maze 
Of wonder whence we came, and why we are 
Spread on the surface of this whirling star. 
There, where the forest builds dark solemn naves, 
They left behind them human joy and grief, 
Waiting while wisdom came in pulsing waves 
To fill the hollows of their grand belief 
That with the rocks that rot, the leaves that fall, 
The running river, and the crumbling hills, 
They too in time would reach again the All : 
Once more to share the wisdom that instils 
Peace to the whole. They passed away, and bears 
Find in the cells they made their warmest lairs. 

THE GLADES 

Where the dark forest opens out in glades, 

The waving grasses drink the fervid rays 

Poured by the lavish sun for endless days, 

And perish slowly in his scorching breath. 

Born of the sun, they take from him their death, 

And yield again the green he gave their blades. 

Their harvest festival glows ripe with gold, 

All crowned with seeds that drop before it fades. 

Yet, truly seen, the grasses are as old 

As any rugged, hoary, moss-grown tree. 

Their still dividing, everlasting cell 

Can claim long lineage as well as we. 

So all are old, yet all are young as well ; 

And all might share the honest pride that thrills 

To feel our only elders are the hills. 

126 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

THE HEAT 

And when the grasses in the glades are dead, 
The sun invades the forest's secret heart. 
Into the deepest shade his arrows dart, 
Slaying the leaves as once they slew the grass. 
But when galvanic, spinning breezes pass, 
These rise again and ghostly measures tread. 
Through the denuded mantle of the trees 
The heat strikes deep into the forest bed. 
Out of the pools it drinks the very lees, 
Leaving their muddy margin starred with tracks, 
A rigid record of the last to drink. 
Even in deeper shade there gape great cracks 
That gradually spread and interlink, 
Making a thirsty network of the earth 
Till the monsoon to rain again gives birth. 

THE POOLS 

And yet the animals remain alive : 

For here and there they find some precious pool 

Deep in the rocks, where water sweet and cool 

Defies the longest drought and never fails. 

These are the final goals of all the trails ; 

The points of peril, where the creatures strive 

To pass the watchful sentinels of death. 

For every leopard knows that thirst must drive 

The deer to drink, though every panting breath 

Carry the warning taint of lurking foe. 

So death haunts all the pools on silent pad, 

127 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

And deer approach them stepping soft and slow, 
Receding, waiting while thirst drives them mad, 
Then they rush in, and drink, and drink, and drink, 
Till sudden terror bids them fly the brink. 

THE RAIN 

The jungle feels as though a dome of glass 
Covers it in, and keeps away the air : 
The atmosphere intensifies the glare : 
Low rumbling thunder grumbles all the morn : 
The trees by fitful circling gusts are torn. 
A grey wet veil of shadow seems to pass, 
And all at once the miracle is done. 
Sweet fragrance rises steaming from the grass. 
Down all the tree trunks little trickles run. 
The deer and buffaloes all throng the glade. 
Among the higher branches monkeys hoot. 
Old yellow tortoises come out and wade. 
Great herds of pig appear, and grunt, and root. 
Ten thousand frogs their strident chorus raise. 
The buzzing insects sing their psalm of praise. 

THE WIND 

The dim arcades that pierce the underworld, 
Where gloomy pillars stand in endless rows, 
Remain untroubled by the wind that blows 
Across the world of tree-tops overhead. 
The monkeys hoot their hollow cries of dread, 
And hide themselves before the storm is hurled. 
The sudden eddies that outride the breeze 
128 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

Speed on ahead, and all the boughs are swirled 
In leafy whirlpools, tearing at the trees 
That creak and groan as though they were in pain. 
For this is warfare where the strongest win ; 
And when the height of tempest brings full strain 
The strength of grand old trees cracks in the din : 
Tearing great boughs from rivals as they fall, 
They die, and rot, and go to join the All. 

THE NIGHT 

When the great moon is full, and lights the east, 
Soon as the setting sun has sunk below 
The fringe of trees so black against the glow, 
The creatures wander in the glades all night, 
Cropping the dewy grass that gleams so bright. 
The trumpeting of elephants who feast 
Echo afar like some tremendous horn, 
While the shrill challenge of each lesser beast 
Makes the night seem more vast and more forlorn 
Than ever is the jungle in the day. 
The plaintive crying of a baby bear, 
The squeaking of the porcupines at play, 
The notes of joy and love, the cries of fear, 
The mournful hooting of a hidden owl, 
The glamour of a distant jackal's howl. 

THE DAWN 

But for an hour or two before the dawn 

The woods are silent while the creatures sleep, 

Until the pale pure light begins to creep 

I 129 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

Across the sky behind the lacing boughs. 

Then night- jars gurgle softly and arouse 

Those cheerful heralds of a forest morn, 

The jungle-cocks, whose loudly ringing voice 

From every thicket round expresses scorn 

For those who sleep, and cries " Rejoice ! Rejoice ! " 

The eastern sky is flushed with palest rose 

Where leaves and twigs are sharp defined in black. 

In all the dells around the chorus grows, 

From out the sky a heron answers back ; 

The world once more awakes refreshed and strong, 

The jungle rings with melody and song. 



THE FLOWERS 

Out in the glade the grass is waving high, 
All lined by lanes where elephants have trod ; 
And like the breath of some pervading god 
The fragrance of ehala fills the air, 
Its blossom glowing golden in the glare. 
Down from a flowering tree-top in the sky 
There comes the humming of a hundred moths, 
Who probe the waxy bells and suck them dry. 
Great sheets of blue spread out like drying cloths, 
Alluring busy swarms of buzzing bees 
Where tiny flowers their honey gardens grow. 
Like jewels on the arms of wealthy trees 
The orchid blossoms pearl and sapphire show. 
Creepers hold woody castles in their power, 
Flaunting their crimson flag upon the tower, 
130 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

THE INSECTS 

Deep in the forest of the dying grass 

The harvesters are busily at work, 

Dodging grim insect ogres where they lurk 

Buried in little pits of sliding sand 

Their execrable engineers have planned 

To trap the footsteps of the ants who pass. 

A web of yellow silk across the gap 

Where a great bumble bee in belted brass 

Comes blustering through, has caught him in its trap, 

And deftly he's enveloped in his shroud 

By a great yellow spider barred with black. 

In this long war no quarter is allowed : 

They never cease from working, nor look back, 

But aim ahead at far eternity, 

Some day, perhaps, to be as wise as we. 

THE REPTILES 

Among the leaves there moves a cord of green 
Where a long whip-snake ripples on his way 
With blank, unblinking eyes of cruel grey. 
The python sets his spring among the weeds, 
And waits until the pig on which he feeds 
Comes near, and is engulfed, and no more seen. 
In a dark cavern under hanging roots 
A crocodile is hiding, ever keen 
To watch the monkeys feeding on young fruits 
And playing in the trees above the stream. 
This is a watchful people, full of gloom ; 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

For almost all the hungry reptiles seem 
To gape dispassionately like a tomb. 
They live so slowly and they grow so old 
That all their appetites are grim and cold. 

THE BIRDS 

Beside the stream, upon a pointed stone, 

There shines a little jewel in the light, 

Sapphire and ruby never shone more bright ; 

Yet in that lovely head there's but one wish, 

For this most brilliant gem but lives to fish ; 

The eagle circles in the sky above, 

Seeking to kill that he and his may live ; 

The green-winged, orange-breasted, whistling dove 

Pipes in the " damba " tree, whose branches give 

Their purple staining fruit to him to sow ; 

The blue-winged roller flashes as he flies ; 

The flame-like flycatcher darts to and fro, 

Chasing the bright enamelled butterflies ; 

Till, tiring of the sun, they dream away 

The drowsy stillness of the heat of day. 

THE DEER 

Who loves the lovely nation of the deer ? 
In the deep thicket of the flowering thorn 
One starry night the little deer was born, 
And so familiar found the leopard's roar, 
It was as though he once had lived before 
In that same thicket, with the self -same fear ; 
132 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

For instinct serves the deer instead of brains, 
And in the woods, from being all so near 
To some great whole, of which they all are grains, 
They share by right the knowledge of the herd. 
The fawn lay silent while the leopard passed 
And knew by nature what it was that stirred. 
So he grew up to lead the herd at last, 
A stag of beauty, dainty, full of grace, 
King of his kind, and father of his race. 

THE BUFFALO 

All through the hottest watches of the day 
The buffalo lie soaking in a pool, 
Where the deep yielding mud feels soft and cool, 
Chewing the cud and thinking do they think ? 
Of what they like to eat, and where to drink. 
At last they lumber out, all clothed in clay, 
And spread about the open, cropping grass. 
Fearless of all the jungle, come what may, 
They will not even let a leopard pass, 
But charge him fiercely, putting him to flight. 
And should a crocodile approach their calves 
The whole great angry host will charge on sight. 
A headstrong people, doing naught by halves, 
Homely, contented, very simple folk, 
Who horn each other roughly for a joke. 

THE LEOPARDS 

Lying along a branch the leopard waits, 
Watching the jungle trail that runs below. 

'33 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

The timid deer suspect their deadly foe, 
And in the forest you can hear their bell. 
Suddenly, like a blow, the leopard fell, 
Striking a pig that strayed behind his mates, 
Crushing its broken neck upon the ground. 
And now his savage roaring harshly grates, 
Spreading wild terror in the jungle round. 
Then like a shadow lightly leaping forth 
A second leopard springs into the track. 
The growling victor snarls in jealous wrath, 
And she as fiercely growls her answer back : 
But waits her turn to taste the bleeding meal ; 
Then both together through the twilight steal. 

THE GLEANERS 

As they move off on silent padded feet 
Two flitting shapes of grey come circling round, 
Cautiously scouting lest they should be found. 
Finally they descend upon the kill, 
With lank eternal hunger hard to fill, 
Though every leopard's kill were jackal's meat. 
So these two gorge themselves upon the pig 
And flit away to some secure retreat. 
Then, on the forest floor, a snapping twig 
Betrays some other hungry for the feast, 
And next a small striped cat goes burrowing 
Into the very bowels of the beast. 
All through the night come gleaners hurrying, 
And each in turn gets gorged and flees away, 
Leaving the ants to end the work next day. 
134 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

THE ELEPHANTS 

Like huge black rocks among the greater trees 
The elephants are resting in the shade ; 
Their giant forms from side to side are swayed, 
And there they wait until the light slants low ; 
Then to the glade in solemn file they go, 
Crushing the grass that reaches to their knees. 
From out the dusk there blares a trumpet call, 
And by the afterglow their leader sees 
Approaching her the greatest bull of all, 
Who lives alone and shuns the social herd, 
Ranging in solitude the river bank, 
Until once more his vast desire is stirred. 
So she went out before her sister's rank, 
Stroking him with her trunk in fond caress, 
While those great lovers sought the wilderness. 

THE BEARS 

Black groups of rocks are scattered o'er the plain, 

And each is dense with scrub and tangled thorn, 

With narrow labyrinthine pathways worn 

Into the stony stronghold of the bears. 

Soft is the dust that carpets all their lairs, 

And fresh the scent of jungle after rain. 

The furry babies playing in the cave 

Bark till the rocks re-echo once again, 

While their stern mother watches, looking grave. 

Then when the evening falls she takes her cub, 

And teaches him the tracks, and scents, and sounds, 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

Where to find " Palu " fruit, and how to grub 
The termites from their castellated mounds. 
And when he tires he climbs upon her back, 
And clings among the fur so long and black. 

THE BATS 

In a dim corridor between the rocks 

There lives a restless multitude of bats. 

High on the walls and safe from jungle cats 

They hang head downward, shrouded in their wings. 

All through the light of day this army clings, 

Waiting the dark, to pour in teeming flocks 

Into the soft warm night above the trees. 

Their miracle of mazy flying mocks 

The efforts of the moth, who vainly flees. 

They draw their moving net across the sky, 

Sweeping up insect lives in myriads, 

Gathering in its meshes all that fly ; 

So they go on for endless periods, 

While still the vast fecundity of earth 

To further countless myriads gives birth. 

THE MONKEYS 

The monkeys move among the higher ways, 
Along the roads that link the larger trees, 
The restless road set swinging by the breeze. 
Among the leafy boughs their home is found, 
But yet they love to linger on the ground 
Through the long afternoons of sunny days, 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

At any sign of peril up they spring, 
Racing across the ground to reach the maze 
Of branches, where they sit and safely swing, 
Uttering hollow, melancholy tones. 
But sometimes fate is swifter than they trow. 
Then while the leopard strips their brother's bones 
They hoot and dash about from bough to bough 
With frantic, impotent, pathetic rage, 
Like half-formed men of some remoter age. 

THE LORIS 

More b'ke a little man than even they, 
A tiny, hairy dwarf with saucer eyes 
That stare intently with an air so wise 
One finds it hard to think he cannot speak, 
Is the slow loris, who, though small and weak, 
Lives on sedately, scorning idle play, 
Holding himself in dignity aloof. 
Timidly shrinking from the light of day, 
He dwells among the tangled twigs that roof 
The gloomy corridors beneath the leaves. 
There, when the sunset paints the sky with red, 
He creeps about the web the forest weaves, 
And catches sleeping bulbuls by the head. 
These tailless little folk, so like ourselves, 
Are nothing else than furry woodland elves. 

THE MEN 

Among the many nations of the wood 
Are those self-called the people of the bow. 

'37 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

More than a score of centuries ago 
Their ancient forbears wandered far and free, 
Until one day there came up from the sea 
A stronger people, spreading fire and blood, 
Who drove them back into remoter wild, 
Where still they hunt, and roam about the wood. 
Dark-bearded, slight of build, in feature mild, 
These simple people live so near to earth 
That they have never practised to deceive ; 
Yet even they take pride in ancient birth, 
For in the past some monkey, they believe, 
Came down and left off roving through the trees, 
And so became a human by degrees. 

THE GOD 

At all the frontiers of this wide domain, 

The little narrow tracks of jungle men 

Pass by great trees whose spreading boughs o'erspan 

Broad mossy places, shot with light and shade, 

Where on their branches small green twigs are laid. 

These are the simple tribute paid to gain 

Rights of protection from old Ayanar, 

Whose spirit, like the scent that follows rain, 

Pervades the wilderness both near and far, 

Guarding his faithful people of the bow. 

No temple hath he : neither form nor face 

Has ever yet been carved by those who know 

His haunting presence in this mystic place ; 

But when before his eyes they wish to be, 

His people pray before a hollow tree. 

138 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

THE SPIRIT OF THE FOREST 

Out in the woodland wilderness alone 

The people of the bow have felt him pass, 

His rustling footsteps pressing on the grass 

Light as the ripple of the evening breeze. 

The gentle humming of the little bees, 

Building their waxen, sweet, inverted cone, 

Safe in the cavern of a hollow tree ; 

The golden oriole's full mellow tone ; 

The brave strong flute of eagles soaring free ; 

The distant clarion of elephants ; 

And all the hundred voices of the wood, 

These are the organ of his sacraments. 

His spirit is the soul of all the good 

Loved by the little people of the bow, 

Who bow before the grandest thing they know. 



THE CLAN OF THE BOW 

THE MAN 

A little toughened man with grizzled beard 
Sat hafting a stone knife upon a stick. 
The hair upon his head was long and thick, 
The wrinkles on his face were dark with dirt, 
His naked form with one brown rag was girt, 
And under bushy brows his eyes appeared 
Alert and watchful, like two little bees. 
He seemed a man who had not often feared 
To meet on equal terms among the trees 

'39 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

The beasts that share with man his sovranty ; 
The elephant, the leopard, and the bear, 
They with their strength and great agility, 
He with his brains, his bow, his knife, his spear. 
This active man was known as Undiya, 
One of the people of great Ayanar. 



THE BOW 

After the knife was sharpened, next the bow 
With a new cord of twisted bark was strung. 
And as he laboured Undiya softly sang 
Songs of the whispering woods and falling leaves, 
Sung in a minor voice, like one who grieves 
With lingering sweetness o'er some ancient woe, 
Too deep to die, too far away to pain. 
And as his voice drew out the notes all slow 
He plucked the bow-string till it twanged again. 
Wrinkling his forehead, while his puzzled eyes 
Gazed at the string whose note rang out so true, 
With dawning wisdom shining through surprise, 
He said, " This song has entered into you ! 
You hold the spirit of some ancient man ! 
The soul of some old father of the clan." 



THE CLAN 

That night the moon beamed blandly in the sky, 
And all the clan was gathered in a glade 
Where Undiya a leafy hut had made. 
140 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

A score of men and boys were seated round, 
Their bows and arrows laid upon the ground ; 
But Undiya held up his bow on high, 
Plucking a string and sounding forth a note 
That seemed to all the people seated by 
To bring the tone of something far remote, 
The voice of some old hunter long since dead. 
Within the leafy shrine the bow was hung, 
A bow no longer, but a spirit fled 
Out of the void into the music sung 
By the new sounding cord that thrilled so low, 
And charmed the simple people of the bow. 



THE DREAM 

The moon sank, and the people lay asleep 

Around the ashes of a dying fire ; 

But in his dreams came ringing like a lyre 

To Undiya the sounding of the bow 

That gave to him a message clear and slow, 

Telling that time was ripe a feast to keep 

In honour of that hunter long since dead. 

Out of the dying fire the flickering leap 

Of little flames glowed through his eyelids red, 

And in his dream it seemed that some great fight 

Loomed in the future, but the battle's end 

He could not see, for blood obscured his sight. 

But still he trusted Ayanar would send 

Some mighty victim for the coming feast, 

And hold him harmless from the dying beast. 

141 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

THE MESSAGE 

Soon as the nightjar hailed the coming dawn 

That spread pale yellow in the chilly sky, 

Undiya rose with purpose in his eye, 

Took a new bow, and fitted a new string, 

Trying its balance, feeling if the spring 

Curved evenly along from horn to horn ; 

While, like an echo of the sleeping wood, 

Winged by the murmuring wind was faintly borne 

The distant trumpet of the mighty herd 

Of elephants who wandered in the wood. 

Then by the bole of an enormous tree 

He laid the bow and arrows, while he stood 

With eyes uplifted in an ecstasy, 

And told old Ayanar about the feast, 

And thanked him for the message from the beast. 

THE PRAYER 

I lay this bow, these arrows, and my knife 
Before thy tree, beneath these spreading boughs. 
Here, where my people pay to thee their vows, 
I pray thee, Ayanar, to bless this bow : 
Swifter than swallows let its arrows go ! 
And when thou watchest me in mortal strife, 
Desperately fighting with some savage beast, 
Oh ! Aid me, Ayanar ! Leave me my life ! 
Leave me to live that I may make a feast 
For all thy people of the sounding bow. 
For in my dream a vision came to me, 
142 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

And since I heard the challenge of my foe 
Come ringing like a trumpet through this tree 
Thy meaning is made plain, and now I know 
The elephant will soon be lying low. 

THE VICTIM 

The sun was getting high when Undiya 
Heard once again that mighty trumpeting 
Peal through the woods in hollow echoing. 
Standing between two lofty walls of rock 
Once and again he heard the echo mock 
From wall to wall in wild acoustic play, 
That grew in swelling volume as a wave 
Of sudden sound, and slowly died away, 
Leaving the rocks as quiet as the grave. 
Beyond the narrow gate of the defile 
He knew that he would find a waterhole, 
So he crept forward, peering all the while 
Through the thick bushes, as he softly stole 
On silent feet, until his eyes could see 
The angry eyes of his great enemy. 

THE WATERHOLE 

The distance that a man might cast a stone 

Divided him from where the other wall 

Of forest raised a barrier as tall 

As where he stood. And all the space between 

Was bare, black, burning rock, all flat and clean. 

The surface of the rock was cleft alone 

By one deep narrow hole with shelving sides 

'43 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

Worn smooth by feet, until the lip had grown 
Polished like stones where running water glides. 
And now long drought had left the water low 
The waterhole became a deadly trap ; 
For thirsty animals were bound to go 
Right to the very edge of it to lap, 
While those who slipped might well abandon hope 
Of ever climbing up that polished slope. 

THE PRISONER 

There in the hole he found the beast he sought, 

Vanquished by fate and robbed of all his pride. 

The trumpet of his wrath had served to guide 

Undiya's footsteps to this living tomb. 

The elephant had just sufficient room 

To turn within the trap where he was caught, 

To take four paces to the further end, 

To turn and take four paces back, but naught 

That he could do would serve his case to mend. 

In vain he strove some higher stance to win ; 

Vainly he beat his trunk upon the stone ; 

And vainly called upon his absent kin 

To give the help he could not gain alone. 

But when the man stepped from the forest dim 

He charged the length and trumpeted at him. 

THE PRISON 

The sun had reached the apex of the sky, 
And all the rocks were shimmering with heat. 
144 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

Undiya felt them burn his naked feet, 
And wondered if the elephant were cool. 
But when he ventured nearer to the pool, 
Looking if there were any chance to try 
And draw a gourd of water fit to drink, 
The angry captive uttered such a cry 
Of rage and fury that it made him shrink 
Back to the forest edge in swift retreat. 
But soon he saw the elephant was bound 
Most strictly by the limits of his beat, 
Four paces either way, before he found 
His egress barred by slippery walls of stone 
Impossible to scale by strength alone. 

THE PITY 

So Undiya came out and stood again 
Gazing in wonder at the elephant, 
Who, he felt doubly certain, had been sent 
To help in the fulfilment of his dream : 
Yet deep within his soul he felt some gleam 
Of sorrow for the mighty creature's pain. 
He looked into the angry little eyes, 
And slowly formed within his puzzled brain 
Some pity that a creature of such size 
Should come to so inglorious an end. 
Where would so very vast a spirit fly ? 
He almost felt as though it were some friend 
Whose death drew sadly near. Yet all things die : 
And this must die by Undiya 's bow and spear ; 
So from his heart he drove all ruth and fear. 
* 145 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

THE ATTACK 

Undiya drew an arrow to his ear 

And loosed it at the elephant's grey flank 

Behind the shoulder, where it struck, and sank 

Full mid-shaft deep, dyeing his wrinkled side 

With oozing red that bubbled as he cried 

In helpless anger, almost mad with fear, 

While with his trunk he plucked the shaft and broke 

A piece away. Then Undiya stepped near 

And drove an arrow with so swift a stroke 

That nothing but the feather could be seen. 

Shaft after shaft flew stinging from his bow ; 

Red was the water which had once been green ; 

Slowly the elephant sank low, sank low, 

Sank to his knees, and yet refused to die, 

But fixed his puny foe with baleful eye. 

THE DEATH 

And now the elephant was tufted o'er 

With little clumps of feathers where his hide 

Was pierced with welling wounds, while up his side 

The crimson water-line did slowly creep 

As he sank lower while the shafts worked deep. 

His voice was silent and he cried no more ; 

But still he did not die, and every shaft 

Had now been sped. So Undiya stood before 

His humbled foe and gripped the toughened haft, 

Poising his spear to give the final stroke. 

But every time he tried to thrust the spear 

146 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

The dying elephant his purpose broke, 
Foiling it with his trunk when he drew near ; 
Till Undiya got through the guard at last 
And in that mighty heart the spear stood fast. 

THE WATCHERS 

While Undiya stood gazing at the dead 

The branches of the trees were softly stirred 

And something moving through the leaves was heard. 

Swiftly he turned and searched the forest round 

With eager eyes, and suddenly he found 

His heart possessed by palpitating dread : 

Blind superstition gripped his mystic soul, 

And from that place of death he turned and fled. 

Yet still the jungle stirred and something stole 

Out of the shadow circle of the trees 

Into the silence where the sunlight blazed ; 

Others crept softly out and by degrees 

A ring of great grey monkeys sat and gazed 

In wordless wondering and silent awe 

At death in form unknown to them before. 

THE FIRE 

Along the forest path that afternoon 
The heavy-laden people of the bow 
Filed singly forward in procession slow 
To where their women waited in the glade, 
Where preparations for the feast were made. 
A heap of firewood from the forest hewn 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

Lay waiting for the right auspicious hour, 

And now the time was coming very soon ; 

For by the entrance of a leafy bower 

Undiya sat and held between his hands 

A little rod of wood he twirled and twirled 

Upon another stick until the strands 

Of shredded bark took fire, and up there curled 

A little spiring wreath of bluish smoke, 

While from their age-long sleep the flames awoke. 

THE FEAST 

Merrily hissed the pots upon the fire, 

Savoury rose the appetising steam, 

In splendid harvest of the hunter's dream. 

And now the rising moon looked down and smiled 

To see the happy people of the wild, 

From youngest infant to the whitest sire, 

Eat steadily while hour ran into hour, 

Gorge till the climbing moon could mount no higher, 

But passed her zenith wond'ring at their power. 

Thus was accomplished Undiya's great feast : 

But while his people lay in dreamless sleep, 

Undiya pondered over the huge beast 

Who died so hardly ; and he scarce could keep 

From thinking that he heard that trumpet note 

Through the dark silence of the forest float. 

THE FEAR 

All through the autumn of that famous year 
Undiya carried in his misty brain 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

A thought that with the coming of the rain, 

When all the greenery was growing rife, 

The elephant would rise again to life. 

This filled his nights and days with haunting fear 

That dogged his footsteps like unswerving fate, 

Till in perplexion he sought out a seer 

And prayed of him this terror to abate. 

There he was counselled to set out next morn 

And seek again the waterhole alone, 

Himself to see how foragers had torn 

The carcass limb from limb, and bone from bone : 

For only in this way, the ancient said, 

Could he be certain it was surely dead. 

THE FIGHT 

So Undiya approached the pool to stare 
Once more upon the place of his great fight ; 
And as he mused there came a footstep light, 
Reminding him of how the forest stirred 
Behind him once before, and now he heard 
The clicking claws of an approaching bear. 
Swiftly he faced around and there he saw 
A she-bear with a cub who stood too near 
For him to flee. Then with a sudden roar 
She sprang upon him while he drew his knife 
And lunged to meet her, striking for her neck, 
Battling her fighting paws to save his life, 
And disengaging with a wrench so quick 
That he was able to thrust home again 
While from her open mouth burst roars of pain. 

149 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

THE FINISH 

She bore him to the ground, and soon her breath 
Beat hot upon his face while still he gripped 
Her throat full strongly, though her talons ripped 
Into the muscles of his heaving chest ; 
And now he felt her rough and hairy breast 
Crush close to his, but still from underneath 
He stabbed again until his weapon broke, 
And she sank down and lay quite still in death. 
Then for a while he fainted : but awoke 
To see the great grey monkeys in a ring 
Silent and solemn, daring no advance, 
But waiting, watching, thinking, wondering, 
While his strong spirit ebbed away in trance ; 
Till far and faint the bowstring seemed to call, 
And he too passed away to join the All. 

THE DRAMA 

When man first views the woods with eyes that see, 

With ears that hear, and with a heart to feel, 

The pain and waste of life makes more appeal 

To his too tender senses than is just. 

He only sees that every creature must 

Live on in, fear and end in tragedy. 

For all the things that live, men, beasts, and trees, 

Form food in time for others, none are free 

From fate that follows all in their degrees. 

For all are preying, all are preyed upon, 

And when the feeble fail they find no ruth. 

150 



THE KINGDOM OF AYANAR 

Yet few are ever ill, for they are gone 
Before their illness hurts them, and the truth 
Shows there can be no bitterness in sorrow 
Where none can form clear vision of the morrow. 

THE ALL 

And what is life that we should fear its end ? 

This something every being cherishes 

Is but a dream, for nothing perishes. 

The trees that die, again grow into trees ; 

The hive lives on despite the deaths of bees ; 

Death simply changes life, and oft may mend 

That which has only failed from evil chance. 

We are not separate as we pretend, 

But parts of one great whole, and though we dance 

A round or two alone, as plants or men, 

We soon return and mingle with the throng. 

Some live a century, and others ten, 

But all the wise and foolish, weak and strong, 

Reach in their time the day when they must fall 

And melt into the ocean of the All. 



PART III 

TALES 
FROM THE MAHAWANSA 



THE MESSENGER 

TISSA the King fell dead, but Abhaya 
Cried in a voice above the battle's shout, 
And bade them force his elephant to charge. 
Then he who sat astride the mighty neck 
Lifted his goad and drove it fiercely in, 
Yelling aloud a shrill old fighting song 
That lit some flame within the gallant beast. 
Wild rang the trumpet of the elephant, 
As like a living thunderbolt he drove 
Right through the swarming legions of the foe, 
Cleaving their squadrons with a crimson lane 
Where writhing men lay screaming in the mud, 
Straight through the lightning of the flashing spears, 
Over the rampart of the clashing swords, 
Reckless of all except to win a way, 
Abhaya charged, and so came bleeding through, 
And gained the shelter of the friendly woods. 

There, in the sudden stillness of the trees, 
They halted while the driver soothed his beast, 
And plucked the arrows from his reeking side. 
The woods were silent in the hush of noon, 
And naught of life they saw save butterflies, 
Dipping their dainty way along the rides, 

155 



THE MESSENGER 

Or fluttering above some lovely flower 
Less brilliant only than their jewelled wings. 
From out the distance came a sullen roar 
Where the last lees of battle ebbed and swung 
Along the muddy margin of the lake. 
But as they waited breathing in the wood, 
The battle ended, and the sound died down. 
Then Abhaya moved on, and passed away 
To bear his heavy message to the Queen. 

Late in the afternoon they reached the hills ; 
And still the driver urged his weary beast 
Along the winding road that climbed the slopes. 
Swift as he might, the elephant moved on, 
His silent footsteps printing in the dust 
Great wrinkled circles spotted with his blood. 
They left the miles behind, and far below 
They left the pale blue haze upon the plain ; 
And now they pierced a narrow cliff-bound gorge 
Whose walls hung high above the toiling track, 
Clouded with colour where the lichen crept, 
And lined with white and scarlet where each ledge 
Was fringed with narrow strips of jungle flowers ; 
While hanging on their brow, like matted hair, 
The forest crowned the cliffs with dusky green. 

They turned at length an angle of the way ; 
And high above them, piled among the rocks, 
They saw the shining whiteness of the walls 
That girt about the royal nunnery. 
156 



THE MESSENGER 

Above the walls rose clustered finials 

That crowned red roofs with graceful symmetry ; 

And over those again, a golden spire, 

Tapering upward like a living flame ; 

And higher still there hung the mountain crags, 

Slow sculpted by a thousand thousand rains 

In wild fantastic pinnacles and towers. 

And as Prince Abhaya looked up and saw 

The jutting cliffs uprise against the sky, 

It seemed as though the mountain slowly sloped 

To fall upon him* bearing on its way 

The buildings of the peaceful nunnery. 

" Would that it might ! " he thought. " That I might die 

Before I give my message to the Queen." 

He left the elephant beside a pool, 

Fed by the sparkling water of a spring 

That welled from underneath a little arch, 

Where some fond hand had carved in days gone by : 

" 01 Carter, driving bulls along this way, 

By my cool water rest a while and pray. 

Drink, and be merciful to those that thrist ; 

For you may be the last, and they the -first, 

When some new life recalls you from the soil. 

Sleep, and be pitiful to those that toil." 

Abhaya washed away the dust and blood, 

And drank, and turned to face the mountain-side, 

Where, like a ribbon running up the cliff, 

A narrow rough-hewn flight of grey stone steps 

Led on and upward to the outer wall. 



THE MESSENGER 

And as he climbed he heard a silver bell 
Ring slow and sweetly, while its mellow tone, 
Calling the nunnery to evening prayer, 
Re-echoed round the hollows of the hills. 

Then, for a moment, at the outer gate, 
Where carven dragons writhed and intertwined 
Their scaly limbs in strange, tormented shapes, 
Abhaya passed, and turned to look away. 
Far, far below, the winding of the gorge 
Cleft a black gulf of shadow through the hills ; 
And out beyond its end there lay the plain, 
Bathed in the glory of the afterglow 
TJaat flooded all the sky with blazing light, 
Turquoise and ruby, amethyst and gold ; 
While clouds like purple turrets in the west 
Were rimmed with fiery parapets, that burned 
And cast their glamour on the distant lake, 
Changing its surface to a blood-red shield. 
But still the gentle calling of the bell, 
Seeming no louder now that it was near, 
Rang on, and drew him slowly to his fate. 
So Abhaya passed in to meet his Queen. 

She saw the dread that smouldered in his eyes : 
She read the message in his haggard face ; 
But with her woman's power to thrust aside, 
From out the inner harbour of her heart, 
The tragedy she would not feel as yet, 
She willed herself to wait another hour ; 

'58 



THE MESSENGER 

Knowing, yet disbelieving what she knew. 
For, with a woman, will can govern mind, 
While man can be convinced against his will ; 
So she delayed, and called the King alive, 
While deep within herself she knew him dead. 
And while Prince Abhaya lay prone without^ 
In wordless prayer before the sacred tree 
That whispered counsel from its restless leaves, 
The Queen passed in to service with the nuns, 
Bearing sweet-scented blossoms in her hand 
To lay upon the altar of the Lord. 
And clear among the voices of the nuns 
He heard her chanting in the litany : 

Buddhang saranang gachari. 

Buddha i We put our trust in Thee 1 

Dhammam saranang gachari. 

Virtue ! We place our faith in thee ! 

Sanghang saranang gachari. 

1 Church ! We build our hope on thee 1 

The Queen stayed in the stillness of her room, 

And bade them send to her Prince Abhaya ; 

Whom, when he came, she greeted graciously, 

Bidding him sit and tell her all he knew. 

So all reluctantly he told the tale : 

How, through the starry watches of the night, 

Their forces lay exhausted by the lake, 

And saw the crescent of investing fires, 

Like flaming eyes that watched to greet the dawn ; 

While all the time the throbbing of the drums 

159 



THE MESSENGER 

Heralded reinforcements hurrying 

To swell the numbers of the waiting foe. 

How, in the night, a small canoe was found 

Hid in the tangled reed-bed by the shore ; 

And how they urged the King to take to flight, 

Leaving his followers to meet the foe. 

11 And he refused ! " she cried. " Oh ! Am I glad 

To know my Lord could die for such a deed ; 

Or must I weep the more to know how vain 

He reckoned life, how small he counted me 

Beside the honour that he prized so high ? " 

" Yes, he refused," said Abhaya. " And then 

We sat together on a little mound, 

Watching the stars die out before the dawn ; 

And there he laid on me the tragic charge 

Of bearing you the story of the end. 

He ordered me to hold myself in leash, 

To save my elephant as best I could, 

So that the moment when he met his death 

Would find me fresh and ready to charge through 

And win my way to bring you his last love. 

All this he laid on me with many oaths, 

Binding me by the love that he and I 

Had cherished since as little baby friends 

We played together in the sliding sand." 

And then he told of how the flush of dawn 
Saw the beginning of a hopeless fight ; 
Till, when the sun stood high, the royal force 
160 



THE MESSENGER 

Gave way before their multitude of foes. 

And how the enemy, in arrogance, 

Shouted that they would take the King alive. 

And so he told her of the latter end. 

" Then, as a Prince of Lanka should, he died, 

Not by the hand of any out-caste dog, 

But at his own desire, and time, and place. 

He sat as squarely on his elephant 

As I sit firmly here before you now. 

He drew his dagger from its jewelled sheath, 

As I draw mine, that was a gift from him. 

He plunged it in his throat " 

He spake no more, 

But fell upon his face before the Queen, 
His message flowing red around her feet. 



161 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

PERIOD. About the year 511 A.D. 
PLACE. Lanka, now called Ceylon. 



KING DHATUSENA, Lord of Lanka's Isle, 
Stood on the sacred mountain by a priest, 
An aged, shrivelled man in yellow robes, 
Whose keen ascetic face and brilliant eyes 
Showed him to be no ordinary monk 
Living in fatness on a nation's needs, 
But one whose thoughts had lured his soul away 
Far from the turmoil of a scheming court. 
Human ambition seemed a thing so vain 
Compared with peace and freedom from desire, 
That strife of men was as the strife of flies, 
No less, no more, a sorrowful mistake. 
Long meditation in a lonely cave 
Had shaken off the shackles of the world, 
And freed old Mahanama from the wheel, 
Certain that Karma's bonds were loosed at last. 
Men called him Rahat, meaning one whose lives, 
Lived in the form of beast or god or man, 
Had beeu so selfless, so sincere and pure, 
That all desire had now been purged right out 
162 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Until rebirth no longer claimed his soul ; 
So that when this life ended he would merge 
One with the infinite for evermore. 



Below their feet the stony mountain-side 

Was carved in terraces, all red with roofs 

Of monasteries high above the palms 

That covered all the ground with patterned shapes 

Of their light feathery leaves ; a pleasant space 

Where monks could linger till the sun grew fierce. 

But now the monks were perched in yellow groups 

On the black rocks that roofed their ancient caves. 

Gossiping, wondering why the old Rahat 

Had come so far afield to meet the King. 

And had the King looked down he would have seen 

Yellow and black the rocks, red roofs, green trees, 

Mingling their mellow colours in the sun. 

But Dhatusena never glanced below, 

While Mahanama only watched the King. 

And had the King looked up he would have seen, 

As though the heavens themselves had burst in flower 

Squadrons of small white clouds in even rank 

Sailing like ships across the sunny blue 

Sped by the breezes of the fresh monsoon, 

Their flying shadows racing o'er the plain. 

But the King's eyes were fixed, and only saw 

His mighty city spread beside its lakes : 

And Mahanama only saw his friend. 

'63 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

in 

Far as the eye could see spread out the plain, 

Dotted with single forest-covered hills, 

Like islands floating on a sea of green, 

And speckled over all with pale blue lakes 

Made by the piety of many kings. 

While, in the centre of this sunny land, 

That ancient city, Anuradha's town, 

Lay like a jewel upon Lanka's breast, 

Its roofs all shining red, and blue, and gold. 

Guarded by lakes, and bowered among palms, 

The swelling domes of holy dagabas, 

Topped by their lofty golden pinnacles, 

Towered in the sky above the gardens round. 

No marvel that the sight held Dhatusen 

In meditation on the mountain top, 

Where all was silent save for the rustling breeze 

And the cicada's faint eternal buzz, 

Noises so endless in monotony 

As to remain unnoticed till they cease. 

IV 

The wisdom born of many thoughtful years 
Warned Mahanama not to break the spell, 
And still he waited for the King to speak. 
But for a while the King stood still and gazed 
With eyes that saw but little of the scene, 
Deep eyes that saw the future all too clear : 
Till a thought came that called him back to earth, 
164 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

And Mahanama saw that he would speak. 

" All this is mine," he said. " I set it free, 

Driving the Cholan from the land he crushed, 

Fighting him day by day and mile by mile. 

First I flung back the forces he had sent 

To pluck me from my refuge in the hills, 

Where their great rampart bars the southern way. 

I roused my people from their lethargy, 

Taught them to fight again, and to believe 

That spear for spear, sword upon sword, their arras 

Were able to stand firm against a foe 

Whose years of cruelty so cowed their hearts 

That courage in their race was almost dead. 

I roused a fallen people by the pride 

I felt in them, and made them feel in me : 

Took callow herd boys, wandering hunters, thieves, 

Monks who'd abjured their vows, outlaws, and all 

Who in our broken nation felt the glow 

That taught them they were still old Lanka's sons. 

I took them all and made them into men ; 

And with this force I held my southern hills. 

Then one great noble joined me, at the price 

Of losing all his lands, and even his son, 

Kept by the Cholan in the capital 

As a fond hostage for his father's faith. 

And, with his force to aid, I left my hills, 

Harrying all the border of the plain, 

Freeing the villages upon the slopes, 

And gaining followers with every blow. 

Many of them had never seen a sword 

165 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Save in the hands of savage Cholan bands, 

Who strode across the fields in search of wealth, 

Where even poverty could hardly live. 

Those who had once been free were now too old 

To carry weapons or to break their chains 

Welded by years of cruel servitude. 

I took their children and I made them men. 

This was the greatest of my victories, 

This conquest of my own poor people's hearts ; 

And the success that followed in its turn 

Over the stubborn, hateful enemy 

Followed as sure as grass will follow rain 

When the long drought drinks in the glad monsoon. 

I shared their dangers then, and they my joys 

When triumph crowned me in that city there. 

Now tell me, Mahanama, did I well ? " 



" My king," the priest replied, " you had done well 

Up to the hour when you were crowned a king, 

You had done mightily, and all your life 

You have wrought mightily both good and ill. 

For, though all strife and fury seem to me 

Fertile of evil, worse than ignorance, 

Almost as powerful as even lust 

To lure the soul from following the light, 

Yet in this case I say you did right well 

To rid your country of a conqueror 

Whose cruelty had left itself no bounds 

166 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

But those imposed by human power to feel. 

For he derided justice, hated peace, 

And strove to crush religion in their hearts 

As in men's bodies he had crushed their strength. 

When, as a child, they placed you in my charge, 

And told me that of all the Solar race 

You were the only prince, the only hope 

Still left to Lanka from her ancient kings, 

I watched you from the first with this in view. 

For even then I saw that many lives 

Must yet be lived to loose you from the wheel. 

I saw that Karma bound your soul as yet 

With bonds of strong, unquenchable desire. 

When as an acolyte you swept my cell 

I hardly thought you would become a monk ; 

But in that quiet solitude of caves, 

Like wells of coolness on the hottest day, 

Where birds and insects and the rustling palms 

Made our sole music from the outer world, 

Your heart found peace. Then for a few short years 

You sought true wisdom, and attained the stage 

Of first enlightenment, which Buddha taught 

Must come to those who seek to know the truth, 

The simple stage of willingness to know. 

And in that will to know there sleeps a seed, 

Not dead, but waiting for its day to break. 

So for a little while you took the vows : 

But in the ripeness of the fruit of time 

There came a man who clamoured at our gate, 

Crying, ' Come out you Prince, if Prince you be, 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Come out and see the wickednesses wrought 
By foreign masters of this land of yours.' 
You went straight out, and in the sunlight met 
The first real horror you had ever seen ; 
For the poor man who cried had lost his eyes, 
Whose bloody hollows fixed you as with sight, 
And in his arms he carried a dead child. 
Straightway you put away from you your vows, 
And crying you'd revenge this man or die, 
You left the cave and entered it no more." 

VI 

Said Dhatusen, " Those eyes can haunt me yet. 

Not even the poor wretches I have seen 

Impaled and writhing to climb up the stake 

Had power to move me as those red blind holes 

That looked, and looked, and looked, and never saw ; 

While all the time the voice was crying, ' Prince, 

Come out and rule your people if you can.' 

I went and followed that poor dreadful man, 

Who trod the path as though he still could see, 

Down to a village nestling in its palms, 

Where all the children ran away in fear, 

The men all cringed to see a stranger come, 

And all the women hid, for fear of shame : 

Till the poor horror who had led me there 

Cried to them all to come and greet their prince. 

So one by one they crept out and believed 

That I had come to rule the land at last. 

Then I first tasted the wild joys that stir 

1 68 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

The man whom men will follow from the first, 
Follow, and give their lives, and ask no hope 
Or yet reward, except to follow him. 
For seven of them joined me then and there, 
With whom I sought the tyrant of their lands, 
And found him armed, and took his sword away, 
And slew him with my own unpractised hand." 



VII 

Then, for a while, the King was lost in thought : 
And, for a time, he spoke not any more, 
But gazed with vacant eyes across the plain : 
While deep within himself that inner thing, 
That thing which asks us questions, and demands 
Immediate answers, giving none itself, 
But only asking, clamouring for reply ; 
That thing, which is so small that it lies hid 
In the most secret self we can unroll, 
Pursued his heart with urgent questioning ; 
While still from scene to scene his mind fled on, 
Borne on the wings of flying memory, 
Until the present hour was reached once more. 
Then turning to the priest he spoke again : 
" Of all my friends I think you are the last, 
As, in the days gone by, you were the first." 
Then said the priest, " I am indeed your friend, 
Seeing your faults and virtues equally, 
Trying to grasp and know you as a whole, 
A living man, shaped by the hand of fate. 

169 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

For this is in the essence of a friend 

That he can see and yet appreciate ; 

Not judging where he cannot understand, 

But waiting, hoping, knowing time will show 

How to forgive the sin of him he loves. 

Bound as a child of passion by past lives, 

Lived before ignorance had been dispelled, 

Violent energy has been your rule. 

For when by force of character and arms 

You drove the Cholan out and took his place, 

Those nobles who to save their lands and lives 

Had sworn allegiance to the foreign lord 

Were next the victims of your violence. 

From their high places close below the throne 

You cast them headlong down and made them slaves 

Men once so proud they would not use their hands 

Except to grasp the jewelled hilts of swords, 

You bound as servants to their former serfs. 

They might have borne this awful chastisement 

In silent knowledge of the purity 

Of countless generations running back 

With blood unsullied into mythic times. 

But you broke down their very pride of caste, 

And gave their daughters to the sweeper's sons." 

The King exclaimed, " They well deserved it all ! " 

But Mahanama said, " We cannot tell 

What they deserved, for they were tempted much. 

Your punishment was evil and unjust, 

And sowed the seeds of mortal enmity 

That you must reap and suffer in the end." 

170 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

VIII 

Then Dhatusena struggled with himself : 

For ever since he had been called a king 

None had rebuked him, and no man had dared 

To tell him to his face that he was wrong. 

Tyrannous power so girded him about 

That honest truth had seldom reached his ear : 

But in his heart he knew the priest was true. ' 

Slowly and with proud reticence he spoke : 

" Confession comes not easily to kings. 

It is not simple to allow a fault 

Where none can punish and where none dare blame ; 

And I have never justified myself 

To any man in all my life before : 

Reluctantly my lips betray my heart : 

So, when I tell you frankly I was wrong, 

I tell you what no other man shall hear. 

That is enough, and all that I can say." 

IX 

" Evil and good," said Mahanama then, 
" Balance unequally in most men's lives. 
Those who sin fearfully do little good, 
For lack of courage limits all their deeds, 
And in the end they are no better men 
Than those whose energy for good or ill 
Urges their lives along a wider path. 
After the glamour of the fight was gone 
You set your face before a nobler goal ; 

171 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

And among all the princes who have ruled 

Old Lanka since the first great conqueror 

Few equalled you, and hardly one excelled 

Your just administration of your charge. 

Look at those lakes that brighten all the plain, 

Each with a grove of palms, and fair green fields 

Won from the forest and preserved from drought ! 

Some of the very greatest of them all 

Found their conception in your fertile brain. 

Their execution followed from your hand, 

And all the toiling multitude you freed 

Were set to labour for their country's good. 

Look at the monasteries that crowd this hill ! 

Look where the temple gardens flaunt their flowers, 

Girding the city with a fragrant belt ! 

Look at the trees you planted. See the roads 

That open up the valleys in the hills ! 

Look in the faces of the villagers ! 

Are those the faces that first met your eyes 

When you flung off the robes and left your cell ? 

These, and the teeming children in the streets, 

These are your witness that your rule is wise." 

x 

" Old Mahanama," said King Dhatusen, 
" Do you believe I brought you here so far 
From your quiet monastery by the lake 
To talk of days gone by and former deeds, 
Just to extract from you some words of praise ? 
Something has stirred my heart these last few days. 
172 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

I am more puzzled than my tongue can tell, 
And would have sought your spiritual help ; 
But now I see I knew my mind too ill ; 
My spirit finds itself too hard to bend. 
You have my leave to go." 

XI 

" One word before I leave you, Dhatusen : 

Perhaps you would have sought my help in vain ; 

For when deep trouble struggles in a man 

His only help lies in his own true self. 

Little has reached my ears to tell me why 

You wished to meet me in this holy place, 

For rumours seldom pierce my solitude ; 

But in your eyes I read a wealth of pain. 

Will you go on unbending to the end ? 

For now I think the end not far away. 

So I will go, but will not say farewell, 

For something warns me we shall meet once more 

By Kalawewa's wide and shining waves, 

Where, as a child, you lived with me in peace." 

So Mahanama parted from the King, 

And moving through the yellow crowd of monks, 

Who silently made way for him, he passed 

Down the broad flight of steps below the caves 

Past the great alms-hall, down into the plain, 

Where his attendants waited his return. 

And on the second day he reached the lake, 

Wide Kalawewa built by Dhatusen. 

All blue and clear the sunny waters shone, 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Mile upon mile of little rocking waves, 
A sight to make a man burst into song ; 
But Mahanama's heart was heavy still. 
They followed the wide path along the bund 
Until the monastery roofs were seen, 
Half hidden in a grove of graceful palms, 
With one white dagaba above them all, 
Its gilded finial twinkling in the sun. 
And there old Mahanama sat in peace, 
Soothed by the whispering of the gentle breeze 
That stirred the moving fingers of the fronds, 
Weaving a shimmering shadow on the sand. 
While far before him waved the green young fields, 
Touched by the flying footsteps of the wind. 



XII 

In the great garden where the palace stood 
It was the midday hour of peace and rest : 
But for the buzzing of the questing bees 
And the cicada's never-ending song, 
No sound was heard in that secluded place. 
Even the lotus blossoms in the pool 
Closed their white chalices and dreamed away 
Some of the few short hours they had to live. 
The sunlight blazed so bright upon the lawns 
That to the dazzled eye the deeper shades 
Seemed yawning corridors as dark as caves, 
And sandy paths took patterns of the trees 
In leafy shadow fretted black on gold. 
174 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

The palace slept in silence for the time, 
Its courtyards all deserted but for guards 
Drowsily leaning back against the walls. 
This was the hour of the triumphant sun. 
The palace seemed the very home of peace, 
When suddenly the silver trumpets rang ; 
The guards all sprang to arms, and serving men 
Came running out from doors on every hand, 
While a great elephant came rolling in, 
Bearing upon his back King Dhatusen. 
The King passed in, the elephant swung out, 
Once more the sentries leaned against the walls, 
And for another hour or two of heat 
Again the palace seemed the home of peace. 



XIII 

But shady halls within the women's wing 
Were full of cautious secret whispering. 
Sedition seethed within those hidden rooms ; 
And half the household plotted on one side, 
Half on the other, while the rival queens 
Breathed enmity, like rival queens of bees, 
But masked it with a grace and courtesy 
Not found in hives that are not human built. 
Queens and their rivals, royal favourites, 
Fought fiercely with smooth weapons for a place 
In the bright circle nearest to the King. 
Sudden disgrace and still more sudden death 
Were not uncommon in that endless war, 

'75 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

And lovely faces, blooming like the flowers, 

Had their short hour, were plucked, and thrown away. 

But two among them now for many years 

Held the chief places in high rivalry ; 

For each had borne a son to Dhatusen, 

Of whom but one could count on being king. 

So Moggallana and young Kasyapa 

Lived from their childhood in two rival camps. 

And now this rivalry had reached a height 

That threatened to divide the court in two. 

The subtle intrigues of the mother queens 

Spread from the palace over all the land 

And split the nation into separate clans. 

It grew more dangerous with every day 

That saw the two young princes growing up, 

For every noble knew the time would come 

When all who wielded power would have to choose 

Which way to turn it and which side to take. 

Great Anuradhapura and the North 

Favoured Prince Kasyapa and watched the time 

When, through his children, they could strike the King. 

The nobles of Ruhuna and the South 

Held for themselves, and waited for the war. 

Beyond the rampart of the mountain range, 

Clothed in dark forest, held by outlawed men, 

And pierced by narrow, winding, rocky paths, 

Ruhuna's separate princedom lay secure. 

Unconquered by the Cholan, it had paid - 

Reluctant tribute to King Dhatusen, 

Owning allegiance only when the King 

176 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Was strong enough to claim it as a right ; 
And caring little which young prince prevailed, 
Stood armed and ready to fling off the yoke. 

XIV 

Save Mahanama and Lilavati, 

The King's fair daughter, few in all the land 

Owed Dhatusena real unselfish love ; 

For he himself loved seldom. In the throng 

Of courtiers in the shadow of the throne 

There was not one to whom he would unbend ; 

His pride was higher than the pride of kings ; 

For one who knew him wise ten judged him cold ; 

Men who had fought with fury by his hand 

Had been repelled and frozen by his pride ; 

And those who knew a hero in his youth 

Found him a rock of granite in his age. 

The early cruelties that dimmed his fame 

Had left a seed of lasting bitterness 

That only waited chance to germinate. 

Even the building of the mighty lakes 

Made many people grumble at the toil ; 

For peasants have small power to look ahead. 

So the whole country lingered in suspense, 

And Lanka waited for the storm to break, 

While the King's pride refused to let him bend. 

xv 

After the triumph of the Cholan war, 

To guard his new domains the King had kept 

M 177 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

A standing army in the capital, 

And for some years had been their actual chief. 

But later he entrusted the command 

To Prince Migara, being well content 

To leave the army to his loyalty. 

For to Migara he had given as wife 

His favourite daughter, fair Lilavati, 

A damsel lovely as a lotus bud, 

And graceful as a young areca palm, 

Sweet as the champak in the evening breeze, 

And more melodious than the oriole, 

Sung by the poets of her father's court 

As rival of the goddess Lakshimi. 

She was the being Dhatusena loved 

With all the pent-up ardour of a heart 

That loved with fury where it loved at all. 

Hard as a crystal to his fellow-men, 

To her he was a father and a friend. 

Migara was a secret, stubborn man, 

A silent reservoir of waiting force, 

More feared than loved, but instantly obeyed. 

And gradually he had grown in power, 

Till now he held the balance in his hand. 

XVI 

When the sun sloped behind the higher palms, 
Shining more mildly through their quivering leaves, 
It was the custom of King Dhatusen 
To leave the palace, almost by himself, 
And watch the sunset from a summer-house 
178 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Built on the margin of the Baya lake. 

Often he called to him Lilavati, 

And, sitting by her, told of other days, 

Nearly a thousand years before their time, 

When Baya had been built by some old king. 

But on this evening she had failed to come, 

And he was followed by Prince Kasyapa, 

His handsome, clever, rather crafty son. 

While they sat there and watched the glowing sky, 

Rosily mirrored in the sleeping lake, 

The King talked easily with Kasyapa, 

More like his father and less like his lord. 

For an unusual gentleness of heart 

Moved him that day ; while, half unconsciously, 

Some memory eluded all attempt 

To be lured out and led into the light. 

And, though he knew it not, that " will to know," 

Which Mahanama spoke of as a seed, 

Had started to thrust out a growing bud. 

XVII 

Beside the lake a pillar had been set, 

Bearing an edict of some former king 

Carved in deep ancient letters on its face. 

And Dhatusena told his son to try 

To read the old inscription if he could. 

And Kasyapa read it easily, 

Winning some kindly praise from Dhatusen, 

Who said, " Since Tissa reigned in olden time 

Our kings have carved their wisdom deep in stone, 

179 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

So that, as one king said, it may remain 
Long as the sun and moon shall yet endure, 
Long as the singing birds shall build their nests, 
Not like a line on running water drawn. 
So every prince should learn to read this script, 
For much is hidden in these carven stones 
Worthy of recollection by a prince. 
See what is written here, it seems to tell 
Of gentler days than those we live in now ; 
For here this king of old extends goodwill 
Even to all the fishes in this lake, 
Decreeing they forever shall be free 
From fear of being preyed upon by man ; 
And to this very day the edict stands." 
" Look," said the Prince, and pointed to the lake 
Where fish were leaping in a startled spray 
Before the rush of hunting crocodiles : 
" Nature is greater than the power of kings, 
And death by violence is nature's rule." 
Then, as they looked, a kite that winged his way 
Over the shining surface of the lake 
Suddenly stooped and caught a leaping fish 
In his sharp talons, and flew off with him. 
And Kasyapa smiled and said again, 
" Death strikes with very sudden swiftness still 
Despite the edict of that ancient king." 
But Dhatusena sat and mused a while 
Till the bright colours in the lake and sky 
Paled rapidly and faded into grey, 
And suddenly it seemed the day was dead. 
180 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

The bats flew out from hollows in the trees, 
Circling and squeaking as they hunted flies, 
The night-jars gurgled as they looked for moths, 
And high up in the darkness overhead 
A flight of bitterns uttered solemn cries. 
" Yet that old king was right," said Dhatusen, 
" For these have only hunger as their guide, 
And we the words of the Enlightened One 
Teaching that life is sacred in all forms, 
Whether they run, or creep, or swim, or fly ; 
For all are equally upon the wheel. 
Now call for torches, for the night grows dark." 
And while they waited for the lights to come, 
Kasyapa marvelled at his father's mood. 

XVIII 

While torches shed a flaming, smoky glare 

Into the shadows of the summer-house, 

Two women, hurrying along the bank, 

Suddenly broke the circle of the light 

And flung themselves at Dhatusena's feet. 

" Justice 1 " they cried. " The justice of the King I 

A great injustice has been done your house ! " 

Then one stood up and showed the lovely face 

Of fair Lilavati all streaked with tears. 

"Justice I" she cried. "Your daughter has been 

wronged, 

Vilely accused, blamed, and condemned, and struck I 
Am I the daughter of a line of kings 
Just to be beaten like a thieving maid ? 

181 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Look ! " and she threw a cloth upon the floor : 

" Look at my blood that stains that linen cloth 1 " 

So suddenly they came, so swift she broke 

Into the meditation of the King, 

Shattering the silence Vith a whirl of words, 

That for a moment he could find no speech, 

But stared bewildered ; while Prince Kasyapa 

Picked up the cloth and saw the blood was wet. 

Then, flaming into sudden, savage rage, 

He cried, " Whoever did this thing shall die ! 

Peace, daughter, think of him already dead." 

And all the time the woman on the floor 

Cried out and filled the place with frantic noise, 

Till Kasyapa touched her on the head, 

Saying, " Get up and stop your clamouring." 

So she abated. 

Then said the King to his daughter, " Tell his name, 

That he may die before your blood has dried." 

But she stood motionless and could not tell : 

So her attendant answered in her stead, 

" Migara did it ! " 

Then Dhatusena shouted in his rage, 

His body trembling and his eyes ablaze : 

" Go, Kasyapa ! Go and seize this man I 

Bring him alive, for I desire his life 

To spill it drop by drop before my eyes. 

The honour of the daughter of a king 

Should be more precious than a thousand lives. 

She calls for justice, she shall have revenge." 

Kasyapa waited for no other word, 

182 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

But took his sword and hastened on his way, 
While the King turned toward the palace gates. 
And on the way there, incoherently, 
They told him how Migara had been led, 
By scandal poured into his jealous ear, 
To judge unjustly, hearing no excuse, 
Believing all his mother's evil tales, 
Refusing to believe Lilavati. 

XIX 

In the great audience hall, upon his throne, 

The King awaited Kasyapa's return, 

His wrath less violent but more profound. 

So terrible and bitter was his face 

That people shuddered when they looked at him, 

And some indeed thought he had gone stark mad. 

Perhaps he had, for this tremendous blow, 

This insult to the only thing he loved, 

Had struck him at a moment when his heart 

Shed for a moment its protecting pride. 

Without the door, the executioners 

Stood in grim order, showing in their eyes 

The horrid cunning of their dreadful trade ; 

And in the courtyard, a great elephant, 

Trained to tear evil-doers limb from limb, 

Swayed his enormous body to and fro. 

Within the hall a deadly silence reigned, 

For those who waited scarcely dared to breathe, 

Lest they should draw the glare of those fell eyes. 

At last a step approached the open door, 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Less stealthy and obsequious than the rest, 

And whispering voices said, " They come ! they come ! " 

Then Kasyapa walked straight into the hall, 

Bowed low, and waited for the King to speak. 

" Where is the traitor ? " asked a rasping voice. 

" Sir ! he had fled before I came," he said. 

" Fetch me Migara's mother," said the King, 

Turning to one who stood behind the throne. 

And once again a silent tension reigned. 

xx 

When she had poured into her mother's ear 
The tragic story of Migara's rage, 
Lilavati grew calmer, and her wrath 
Slowly gave way before a milder mood ; 
For she was really generous at heart, 
And seldom nursed a quarrel for an hour. 
All in the palace knew that Dhatusen, 
Under the hardness of his granite front, 
Felt for Lilavati a mighty love ; 
And both her mother and Lilavati 
Wished the unhappy words could be unsaid. 
But the King's anger was so terrible 
They did not dare to speak to him again : 
For deeds, like ripples in a troubled pool, 
Must run their course and cannot be recalled. 

XXI 

Another chamber in the women's wing 
Was witness of a very different scene, 
184 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Where Kasyapa's mother met her son 
After he told his message to the King. 
" The word I took him was untrue," said he ; 
" I warned Migara and advised his flight. 
Swift was my hand to seize the flying chance ; 
For this man's influence will serve me well 
In the decisive days that loom ahead. 
The time is ripe for action. I must go. 
When I return, if I am not a corpse, 
I'll be a king." 

XXII 

It would be happier far to leave untold 

The dreadful tale of Dhatusena's rage. 

But history has told it nakedly ; 

And to pursue this story to its end 

The springs must be revealed that fed the source 

Of great events that followed in their train. 

Another reason for less reticence 

Is that to show these times in all their truth 

Their horrors and their beauties must be drawn 

All intermingled as they were in life. 

For this old nation, in its lovely isle, 

Under the glamour, and magnificence, 

And love of art, and mild philosophy, 

Hid in its bosom a most savage soul 

That ever and again flamed fiercely forth 

And marred the mirror of a golden age. 

Let it suffice to say that Dhatusen, 

Who was the very pattern of his day, 

m 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Ordered Migara's mother to be burnt. 
But while she waited for this awful death, 
A hand pressed hers, and passed her a small bag 
Containing opium, while a whispering voice 
Said, " This is a gift from sad Lilavati." 
So the red glow that horrified the night, 
Claiming her body whence the soul had fled, 
Paid but the honour of a funeral pyre. 

XXIII 

All through the darkness of that fevered night 
The soldiers who kept watch along the wall 
Heard the great city stirring in its sleep ; 
And a low whispered message to the troops 
Followed the ringing watchword of the guard. 
" Move out at dawn. The orders are to wait 
Migara's coming at Pankuliya, 
Where, in the fields beside the river bank, 
He gathers force." 

All through the night the sentries on the wall 
Heard stealthy footsteps passing through the gates, 
Where men in twos, or threes, or little groups, 
Whispered the watchword and went swiftly forth ; 
While spear points and the eager eyes of men 
Shone in the glittering light of countless stars. 
And all around the wall from hour to hour 
There circled floating fragments of the news : 
" The army as a whole declares for us." 
" What of the palace guards ? " 
" They have come over with Prince Kasyapa." 
186 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

" Has he too left the King ? " 
" He passed an hour ago. There are none left 
Except Prince Moggallana, and a few 
Kept in the palace to prevent escape. 
They say the King is sleeping in his room, 
All unsuspicious of the breaking storm." 

XXIV 

When the pale yellow of the eastern sky 

Awaked the morning chorus of the birds, 

Ringing the palace round with melody, 

Prince Moggallana burst into the dreams 

That lulled the sleeping conscience of the King. 

" Migara with a force is on the way 

To seize the throne for Kasyapa I " he cried. 

" The army has gone over, and the guards 

Who still patrol the palace only wait 

Their orders from the rebels." Dhatusen, 

Waked from his slumbers over suddenly, 

Said, " Has Migara come, and Kasyapa ? 

I waited for them long enough last night." 

So the Prince told him all the tale again 

Of Kasyapa's rebellion, and of how 

The livelong night the city poured out men. 

" There is one gate/' he said, " not guarded yet 

By enemies, but faithful still to me. 

Come, father, let us fly at once and gain 

The safety of the hills." 

But Dhatusena said, " I am the King : 

Shall I be driven by a rebel son 

187 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

To leave the throne where I have sat so long ? 
Nothing that you can urge shall make me move. 
But you must go. Gather your power with speed. 
I shall abide what fate may have to give." 
So Moggallana fled into the North, 
Where the great forest offered sanctuary ; 
But failing even there to find support, 
Took ship and sailed across the narrow strait 
Dividing Lanka from the neighbouring land, 
Where he took counsel of the Pandiya king, 
And found a safe retreat in Madura. 

xxv 

Deep in the palace garden, in the shade, 
Where a great tree, with crimson blossoms crowned, 
Shed its bright flowers and carpeted the lawn, 
There was a little arbour built of stone : 
Shrubberies shut it in on every side, 
And sunshine flecked the ground with light and shade. 
Here Dhatusena waited for the end ; 
Caring nor fearing little for his life ; 
Knowing the days were short he had to live ; 
But musing over Mahanama's words, 
When, on the mountain, he had prophesied 
That they would meet once more beside the waves 
Of Kalawewa sparkling in the sun. 
For deep within his heart there lay the hope 
Of finding peace of mind before the last. 
So, for a while, he dreamed of future lives 
Lived purely, following the single aim 
188 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Of seeking freedom from the flying wheel. 
And while he sat alone there came a voice, 
Carolling lightly in the garden near, 
And slowly drawing nearer to his side : 
A song that waked old memories of days 
When soldiers chanted it in praise of him. 
So Dhatusena listened while the voice 
Sang clearly on. 

XXVI 

Down from the peaks that touch the sky, 
Down from the mountain valley, 

Down from the hills where the eagles fly, 
We made a sudden sally. 

Away with fear, for the Prince is here ! 

We'll scatter the foe if we once get near ! 

Over the plains that spread below, 

Over the thorny bushes, 
Over the fields where the wild flowers grow, 

We moved in rapid rushes. 
The Cholans fly, for the Prince is nigh : 
We'll follow him forward till we die 1 

Round the city there stand great walls, 

Round the walls are trenches ; 
Round the ramp the trumpet calls, 

Death to him that blenches ! 
Quicken the pace, for the Prince's face 
Brightens with joy as we onward race. 

189 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Up the slope where the javelins sing ! 

Up the stream of arrows ! 
Up the wall where the helmets ring, 

And room for fighting narrows ! 
Now rally all, to the Prince's call, 
And hurl the Cholan off the wall ! 

Into the street where the Cholans fly ! 

Into the golden city ! 
Into the crush where foemen die, 

And fury feels no pity ! 
Our voices ring, and the song we sing 
Hails the Prince as our country's king. 

XXVII 

The branches parted, and a man came out, 

And lowly bowed himself before the King : 

He was a bushy man, all clothed in hair 

That throve as thickly on his naked chest 

As on his head. " Who are you ? " said the King. 

" Why do you sing that song I have not heard 

For half a lifetime ? " And the man replied, 

" My Lord the King, I am the honest carter. 

I served Your Majesty a soldier, years ago, 

And now I come to serve you once again. 

That's why I sing that song." 

" Can you be ignorant," said Dhatusen, 

" Of all the happenings of yesterday ? 

Or do you bear me some old grudging hate, 

Nursed since those moving days of which you sing, 

190 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

And come to jeer my fall ? " 

" I am the honest carter," said the man ; 

" That is the name men call me by in town ; 

And having earned it, I live up to it. 

I never yet have stole or lost a load 

Entrusted me, nor overcharged one cent, 

Nor ever turned my back upon a friend." 

" Friend ! " said the King, " you have too rare a heart 

To risk it here. Go while you yet have time ; 

And carry with you as your recompense 

The heartfelt gratitude of Dhatusen." 

But the man stayed, and said, " I beg your leave 

To stay a little while, for who can tell 

When you may find some use to put me to ? " 

Then said the King, " Sing me another song : 

For you have got a voice that takes me back 

Far from the trouble of the present day." 

" I know a mort of songs," the man replied : 

" For travelling alone along the roads, 

And eating in a hundred different inns, 

Songs come to me by nature, day by day, 

As easily as fortune comes to kings. 

I cheer my bulls along their patient way 

By singing songs of golden fields of corn, 

And cheer myself by singing of fair maids, 

While, at the halting stage, I cheer them all 

By singing choruses for all to join. 

So if Your Majesty will condescend 

To tell me what was passing in your mind, 

Why, then Til sing a song about it now." 

191 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Then the King smiled and said, " My thoughts had 

flown 

Far from the dangers that encircled me, 
And I was lost in wonder at the lives 
Of those who live for purity alone." 
" That means no monks," replied the hairy man ; 
" For monks love purity as I love them. 
Yet some there are, and one I used to know, 
Who lived, a hermit, in a lonely cave, 
For years and years, for no one knows how long, 
He was the highest man I ever knew. 
Even the beasts that wandered in the woods 
Knew that old man, and loved him as a friend. 
But one dark day a leopard struck him dead. 
I hunted down that beast, and made this song 
That now I sing to you." 

XXVIII 

Laughing wave. Laughing wave. 
A hermit lives in the forest cave. 
Calm and cool. Calm and cool. 
The lotus lies on the forest pool. 

Sweet and clear. Sweet and clear. 
The birds sing low in the forest near. 
Light and shade. Light and shade. 
The deer peep out of the forest glade. 

Rustling trees. Rustling trees. 
Whisper the tale of the forest breeze. 
192 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Steep and strong. Steep and strong. 
The hills re-echo the forest song. 

Leaf and flower. Leaf and flower, 
The orchids bloom in the forest bower. 
Swift and grim. Swift and grim. 
The leopard leaps from the forest dim. 

Silver bell. Silver bell. 
The pilgrims come to the hermit's cell. 
Sounding knell. Sounding knell. 
Bury him deep in the forest dell. 

XXIX 

While the last note that closed the song still rang, 

They heard the feet and voices of some men 

Coming toward them. And the clash of steel 

Told they were armed. 

" Hide in the bushes 1 Quick ! " said Dhatusen. 

" You will be put to death if found with me." 

So he obeyed and left the King alone. 

Then a loud voice cried out, " The King has gone 1 

The servants say he left soon after dawn, 

And has not since been seen. In some disguise 

He must have passed the walls and fled away.' 1 

Another voice replied with the command, 

" Search all the grounds 1 He may be hiding here." 

Feet were heard scurrying the fallen leaves, 

And, of a sudden, a tall bearded man 

Thrust through the bushes and beheld the King 

N 193 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Seated in quiet dignity alone. 
Startled to find what he so eager sought, 
For a full moment he was left amazed, 
Only his face in sight, all framed by leaves. 
Then softly he withdrew, and passed the word 
To others, till it reached Migara's ear : 
And led by him they all came on and stood 
Silently looking at their enemy. 

XXX 

The crimson blossoms strewn upon the lawn 
Were bruised by footsteps falling on the grass, 
Letting the fragrance prisoned in their cups 
Fill all the air with wafts of memory, 
As scents alone have subtle power to do. 
And there they stood in awe before the King. 
For he so long had been their dream of power 
That even now they hardly could believe 
His power had gone. 

Crowned with an aspect so serene and calm, 
So still, so free from any sign of fear, 
He seemed the emblem of high majesty ; 
A royal soul in god-like form of man. 
And none, not ev'n Migara, dared to break 
The silence of the King. 
Thus Dhatusena was the first to speak. 
Ignoring all the rest, with regal right, 
He spoke to one who hid behind the group : 
" Kasyapa, are you seeking me, my son ? " 
But Kasyapa could not meet his eyes ; 
194 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

And muttering, " Bring him to the audience hall, 1 
He turned and left that silent scented lawn. 
The spell was broken, and Migara's voice 
Cried, " By my mother's ashes, he shall die I " 



XXXI 

In all the jewelled splendour of a King 

Kasyapa sat upon his father's throne : 

Upon his head he wore his father's crown ; 

While Dhatusen stood in a space alone, 

Seeming half conscious of the people there. 

Foremost of all the nobles in the room, 

Migara passionately claimed revenge ; 

While the new king appeared to judge his words, 

And when he finished, turned to Dhatusen 

To hear his answer. 

But the old king declined to meet a charge 

Brought by a subject. 

" If I am king, I reign ; if not, I die. 

All trial of a king is mockery ; 

And trial of a man who has been king 

Is more an insult than an act of grace. 

Waste no more time on idle forms of law, 

But make an end." 

Migara straightway would have slain him then, 

Had not a courtier asked for leave to speak. 

Bowing to Kasyapa he said, " My Lord, 

Before you rid your throne of rivalry 

Would it not be as well to ascertain 



'95 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Where the vast treasures known to have been saved 

Have been deposited ? " 

So once again King Dhatusena's fate 

Hung for a time in doubt. And still he thought 

Of Mahanama's words upon the hill ; 

Until an overpowering desire 

Possessed his soul to see the priest once more : 

So that when Kasyapa came alone, 

Offering to barter him his life for gold, 

He promised him to show the treasure stored 

At Kalawewa. 

XXXII 

Breaking his slumber when the morning mist 

Steamed from the surface of the sleeping lake, 

An escort took the royal prisoner, 

Condemned to travel in a country cart, 

To Kalawewa, where his treasure lay. 

Through broad green fields of budding rice they passed 

By an old temple fashioned among rocks, 

Re-echoing the mellow sound of bells, 

Where a great monastery had grown and grown, 

Until it swallowed all the rocks and caves. 

Then, across fields, mile upon mile of green, 

Where sleepy buffaloes stood watching them, 

With milk-white egrets perched upon their backs. 

Something there is within the heart of man 

That gladdens at the happy harmony 

Of simple birds and beasts and boundless fields : 

And even captives feel their hearts rejoice 

Before the waving acres of young corn. 

196 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

The fields moved by them, and the winding road 

Pierced through a world of intertangled boughs 

Before King Dhatusen began to feel 

More than a passing thought for other men. 

Then he began to hear the soldiers* talk, 

And noticed that the carter on the pole 

Had hairy arms, though still he wore a shawl 

Muffling his head and hiding half his face. 

One of the soldiers called upon the man 

To sing a song to wile away the time ; 

And turning round, the man asked Dhatusen 

For his permission, saying, with a smile, 

" Your Majesty has heard me sing before." 

And having taken leave, the man inquired 

What kind of song the men would have him sing. 

" Sing of a lovely virgin,'* said the first. 

" No, sing a drinking song," the second said. 

Another, " Sing a song of crocodiles, 

For our Migara lies like one of those, 

Silent and watchful till he gets his grip." 

" Crocodiles be it," said the hairy man. 

" One song I sing for you, and if again, 

'Twill be to sing a song to please the King. 

This talk of crocodiles may scare the bulls." 

XXXIII 

On the mirror of the pool 

Lotus lilies lay ; 
And the water looked so cool, 

In the drought of day, 

'97 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

That a deer ventured near, 
Treading tremulous with fear. 

Ringing ripples on the pool 

Lapped along the brink ; 
O, you pretty, dappled fool, 

Look before you drink ! 
When in doubt, go without, 
Lilies hide a cruel snout. 

Grey old heron spiking frogs, 

With a practised guile, 
Warn him that those sunken logs 

Are a crocodile. 
But the bird never stirred, 
And no warning cry was heard. 

Then a sudden, snapping rush 

Woke the startled pool ; 
And an agonizing crush 

Dragged the thirsty fool 
To the gloom of his tomb, 
While the heron cleaned a plume. 

xxxiv 

The soldiers praised him, but the singer said, 
" That was a rough song fit for such as you, 
But I prefer the gentle ones myself." 
" You have a gift," the leading soldier said ; 
" To hear you sing gives pleasure to a man. 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Who taught you how to make such songs as these ? " 

" My eyes and ears have taught me, and the birds 

That sing each morning to the rising sun. 

But once I had a lesson from a man 

Who was a poet, and who drove a trade 

Of writing rhymes for wealthy folk in town. 

He hired my cart to go and see his aunt 

Out in the country, and revealed his art. 

' Mine is a melancholy muse,' said he ; 

' The less my liver works, the more my pen ; 

And while I get four hearty meals a day, 

And never walk abroad, but stew at home, 

I can spout verses as a cloud spouts rain. 

So meals breed poetry and rhymes breed meals. 

But now the jolting of this cursed cart 

Will ruin my production for a month, 

And I shall have no cash to pay your hire.' 

So, as he stuck to that, I turned him out, 

And never met that kind of fool again." 

XXXV 

With song and story all the morning fled, 
While with it fled the gloom of Dhatusen 
Before the honest carter's gift of cheer. 
Never, he thought, in all his life before 
Had he encountered such a happy man. 
And then he realized the lonely path 
That he had followed, even as a child, 
And ever since, up to the present time. 
For men had been to him as instruments, 

199 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Used, or discarded, as his judgment urged. 
But now he seemed to know them suddenly 
As human beings, vital as himself. 
Ever since childhood he had grown to think 
Of kings and princes as a race apart ; 
As different from ordinary men 
As from the buffaloes that tread the grain. 
But now he saw them all with clearer view, 
And felt a sudden glow of happiness 
To feel he too was of the human race. 
The sun grew hotter as the morning wore : 
In all the wilderness the birds were mute. 
Like pools of darkness in the road ahead 
Lay welcome shadows under giant trees ; 
Marking the chosen halting-place for noon. 
And presently the bulls were taken out ; 
The camp-fires flickered, and the pots of rice 
Cheerily bubbled on their hearth of stones. 
The officer commanding sat apart, 
Leaving the King in freedom to look on 
With new enjoyment of a rustic scene, 
Till all was ready for the midday meal. 
Then the good carter brought a share of his, 
Served on a broad green leaf he freshly picked, 
And waited while the King was satisfied. 
Then all was silent, while the mighty sun 
Compassed his brazen journey through the sky ; 
Until the birds again began to chirp, 
While troops of monkeys moved among the trees, 
Following airy tracks along the boughs 
200 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

That interlaced across the jungle road. 

All through the night the cart moved slowly on, 

The soldiers treading softly in the dust, 

The carter singing gently to himself. 

XXXVI 

They left the forest as the morning sun 

Was lighting all the surface of the lake, 

Spangled with lilies as the sky with stars ; 

While flocks of whistling teal went circling round 

In clouds that changed their colours with their course. 

And from the reed-beds and the lily-leaves 

There rose the babbling talk of water-birds, 

An incoherent medley of quaint sounds. 

Crocodiles lay in scores along the bank, 

Their yellow yawning mouths like open traps, 

Scurrying off in swift ungainly flight 

Soon as the soldiers' voices reached their ears. 

In all the shallow bays that fringed the lake 

Gaunt trees stood in the water, ashy white, 

The ghosts of forests swallowed by the lake ; 

Their naked branches bleached by the fervid sun, 

All crowded now by strings of cormorants 

Holding their jetty wings outspread to dry : 

While high above them, in the dome of heaven, 

A white-tailed osprey, sailing in the blue, 

Cried to its mate a clear melodious call. 

Great gladness filled the heart of Dhatusen ; 

For, looking back across the space of years, 

He could remember all this shining lake 

201 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

A gloomy valley, dark with forest trees : 

And his had been the brain to cause the change ! 

The road they travelled mounted up the bund 

That bound the lake within its valley bed ; 

Strung like a cord across from horn to horn, 

Joining the little hills on either side. 

And far below them spread the sunny fields, 

In endless miles of rippling waves of green, 

Shot with their channels as with silver threads ; 

All from wide Kalawewa's bounty fed, 

Where foaming water leaped from the open sluice. 

These too, thought Dhatusena, are my work : 

This is the greatest thing that I have done." 

XXXVII 

Then, of a sudden, something seemed to break, 
Flooding the world with a wild symphony 
Of glorious swelling music, far and near ; 
While a sweet fragrance filled the open air, 
Like that exhaled from all the grateful earth 
When the first shower soaks through sunbaked soil. 
And light was everywhere, bright blinding light ; 
Not blazing from some brilliant centre point, 
But all diffused, less like the light of day 
Than like a splendid higher power to see. 
Dhatusen felt no inclination then 
To try and analyse this new delight, 
Contented just to breathe great depths of joy ; 
For higher consciousness invaded him, 
And palpitating life enclosed him round. 

202 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

The osprey gliding high above the lake 

He now not only saw, but felt as well, 

Sharing the joy of sailing through the gulf. 

And with the forest and the rippling fields 

He shared the happiness of growing things ; 

While, of the calm of the eternal hills 

He felt a partner in their perfect peace. 

For he was part of all, and they of him ; 

None greater, and none smaller, but the same. 

And then, at last, they reached their journey's end. 

XXXVIII 

Under the shadow of a sacred tree 

Old Mahanama waited for the King, 

And greeted him with graceful courtesy. 

Long were the hours, although they seemed too brief, 

That held them talking there, in harmony 

Each with the other, and with all the world. 

And when at last the time of grace was done 

They stood together in the chequered shade 

And spoke intently that which filled their hearts. 

" It is not so uncommon," said the priest, 

" To find a man whose life is spent as mine, 

In quiet meditation and in peace, 

Suddenly finding that his eyes are clear, 

And that the truth is plain for all to see. 

But with a man whose life is very full, 

As yours has been, of great activity, 

It is so rare that I can bring to mind 

No other case so sudden and complete." 

203 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

" Yesterday," said the King, " I should have thought 

It quite impossible that I should feel 

A common sympathy with other men. 

I did not even wonder what I missed : 

But now it seems as though a sudden light 

Had blazed into my heart, and burnt right out 

The pride and anger that I felt before. 

It is no use repenting what I did. 

Even a weary life of penitence 

Could not recall a single action sped. 

My eyes are dazzled as I look and see 

That all this universe is only one, 

One single, glorious whole, and I am part, 

Sharing a cosmic higher consciousness 

More comprehensive than the mind of man 

Can realize by reasoning alone. 

I feel this greater joy pervade me through 

As scent pervades a wood when nilu flowers. 

For birds, and beasts, and rocks, and trees, and stars, 

Are only parts of one harmonious whole. 

Now let me die as soon as death shall come ! 

It cannot hurt the whole, and I am part, 

Not to be separated from the whole 

Even by death." 

" Son," said the priest, " your soul has leaped a cliff 

That others climb, in slow laborious steps. 

The path our founder taught, the middle way, 

Is but a way to guide the average mind ; 

And other paths, by other sages taught, 

Are but the spokes of one eternal wheel, 

204 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

All leading to the centre in the end. 

The time has come to part for this short life : 

Without regret or fear, I say farewell." 



XXXIX 

So the King left the priest and moved away 

Where Prince Migara waited on the bund, 

Mounted upon a noble Persian horse. 

" Where are your promised treasures, King ? " he cried ; 

" Tell me, for I have ridden far to-day, 

And now must see them before daylight fails." 

King Dhatusena looked him in the face. 

" Prince," said the King, " these are my only wealth, 

The friend I honour, and this lake I built." 

Then Prince Migara cursed him where he stood, 

His face all grey with hatred and with rage. 

" Return," he shouted, " by the road you came, 

Death will await you at the other end " ; 

And, wheeling round his horse, he galloped off. 

So they returned along the jungle road. 

And while they travelled through the murky night, 

A sudden storm lashed all the forest trees, 

Filling the air with flying clouds of leaves, 

Till rain fell like a wall and beat them flat ; 

While thunder in reverberating roll 

Re-echoed rumbling through the hollow vault. 

Then in the storm the honest carter's voice 

Rang shrilly, singing to the trembling bulls, 

205 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

And in the coruscating blackness there 
The King sat listening to the carter's song. 



XL 

The jutting crags of the mountain 

I roamed across in vain ; 
I rambled through the crowded towns 

That gem the golden plain. 
Through the woodland of the west, 

Beside the summer sea, 
I wandered seeking peace of mind, 

But there was none for me. 

No, there was none for me. 

The luxury of the simple, 

The calm of the lonely cell, 
The lazy life of the temple, 

The call of the silver bell. 
Monks find peace in holy shade, 

Shade of the sacred tree, 
So all their paths I tried in turn, 

But they were not for me. 

No, they were not for me. 

One day the god of the open air 

Gave of his gathered wealth, 
And after seeking everywhere 

I looked within myself. 
206 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

There I found my peace of mind, 

And now where'er I be, 
Wherever I drive my cart along 

I carry it on with me. 

I carry it on with me. 

XLI 

" You are a strange man/' said King Dhatusen. 
" I was a stranger monk," the man replied, 
" Before I left my cell to join my prince." 
Then said the King to him, " This song of yours 
Fits rarely close to that which fills my mind." 
" Yes," said the man. " I knew it would, and so 
I sang it for you to show sympathy. 
For I can tell what hides behind your face ; 
And, like your Majesty, I found the light 
Blaze suddenly, and glorify the world." 
Then the strange fellow turned away again, 
And through the night crooned softly to his bulls, 
While the cart creaked along the muddy road. 



XLII 

In the dim stillness of the audience hall 
Dhatusen stood for the last time in life, 
Calm and unmoved before the traitor there, 
Who judged a father from that father's throne, 
And now pronounced the solemn words of doom : 
11 Take this man out, and build him in a wall, 
Standing him there to face the rising sun, 

207 



THE UNVEILING OF DHATUSENA 

Which he shall wait to see for evermore.'* 

Then to Migara turned King Dhatusen, 

And to him said, " Friend, I forgive you all." 

And Prince Migara uttered not a word, 

But turned his head and left that place in shame. 

The soldiers led King Dhatusen away ; 

The nobles melted from the hall in awe ; 

But Kasyapa sat on immovable, 

While horror harboured in his haunted eyes, 

To leave them nevermore. 



208 



KASYAPA 

A Sequel to The Unveiling of Dhdtusena 

TIME. Sixth century A.D. Eighteen years after the 

death of Dhatusena. 
PLACE. Lanka, now called Ceylon. 

THE RIDE 



KASYAPA, son of great King Dhatusen, 
Built him a citadel upon a crag j 
A palace like Alakamanda's halls, 
The mythical abode of Kuvera, 
The Indian god of wealth and luxury ; 
And there he dwelt in ever-haunting fear 
Both of his brother and the world to come. 
Thrice had he sent assassins oversea 
To slay Prince Moggallana, so to end 
The vague suspense that hovered over him : 
But failed. And now his fate was drawing nea-, 
For rumours reached him from the southern hills 
Of Moggallana's landing on the coast. 
From his high battlements upon the cliff 
He looked across the country spread below, 
o 209 



KASYAPA 

And saw with ominous, prophetic eye 
The racing shadow of the darkening storm, 
Till haunting horror drove him forth to ride 
Among the far-spread forests of the plain, 
Where he would brood along at funeral pace 
For miles and miles, and then in sudden rage 
Strike spurs into his steed and gallop off, 
Followed by all his straggling retinue. 
And ever close along his master's side 
There rode Migara with his traitor face. 



ii 

The sun was slanting low behind the trees, 
Lighting the branches where the monkeys moved, 
While the dim forest aisles below the leaves 
Were darkened by the shade of coming night. 
The whistling of the pigeons in the boughs 
Had ceased, and they had fled away and left 
The soft- winged night-jar with his bubbling cry 
Flitting along the lonely jungle path. 
Among the leaves that littered all the way 
There came the rustling steps of moving bulls ; 
The gentle creaking of the cart they drew 
Made music with the crickets' piping trill 
That filled the forest with their evening song, 
A chorus waiting for some master tone 
To blend the tune and harmonize the whole. 
And now above the creaking of the cart 
There rose the voice of him who rode the pole, 
210 



KASYAPA 

A shaggy, long-haired, simple-looking man 
With broad and naked breast all bushed with white. 
Above the varied hum of woodland sound 
His song rang sweetly out upon the air. 

HI 

For eighteen years, for eighteen years, 
I drove my cart, and dried my tears, 
Singing a song that no one hears, 
For eighteen years to-morrow. 

For on that day, for on that day 
They led King Dhatusen away, 
And built him in a wall of clay, 
Come eighteen years to-morrow. 

His son the king, his son the king 
Hath felt within his heart the sting, 
Hath feared the fate that time will bring, 
For eighteen years to-morrow. 

He builds high walls, he builds high walls, 
But still he hears the voice that calls, 
And still repents the sin that galls 
Since eighteen years to-morrow. 

IV 

He stopped, but still the bulls went rustling on ; 
The crickets trilled their intermittent song ; 

211 



KASYAPA 

The night-jar fluttered gurgling down the path ; 
And from within the cart there came a voice : 
" Is your song ended, carter, with that verse ? 
Is there no more to sing, no more to say ? 
Have you no words to greet your lawful King, 
Whose exile ended when he set his foot 
On Lanka's shore ? " 

" My lord," the man replied, 
" Prince Moggallana will have earned my praise 
When he has shown himself a gallant son 
Of that brave father whom we served so well. 
For eighteen years he let his brother reign 
And stirred no hand to rid this wretched land 
Of Kasyapa, king and parricide. 
And even now his landing in the South, 
In safe Ruhuna. guarded by the hills, 
May mean no more than some attempt to gain 
The southern country, while his brother reigns, 
Holding his matchless castle on the cliff 
Until he dies." 

" My son," replied the voice, 
" This is no idle effort made in haste. 
Prince Moggallana made appeal to me, 
Calling me forth from my abode of peace 
To join his court beyond the southern hills, 
So that all those who hear and trust my voice 
May know that I, the friend of Dhatusen, 
That I, old Mahanama, love not peace 
More than I love that justice should prevail. 
So after taking long and earnest thought 

212 



KASYAPA 

I sent him word that I would join his power 

If he would swear to rule this ancient realm 

In truth and justice, following the laws 

Made by the wisest of the kings of old, 

Who looked upon religion as the light 

To guide their way through all the toils that set 

So many perils in the path of kings. 

And he in turn sent back to me and swore 

To rule right, to walk straight, to follow those 

Whose lives had lain most closely to the law, 

And not to flinch or rest until he gained 

Full power to realize these vows of his. 

So then I sent for you, and now we go 

To join the prince who soon will be our king." 

" Then," said the carter, " I will sing again, 

And add new verses to this song of mine. 

So, in a louder voice, he raised his song, 

And drove the bulls more swiftly on their way. 



A few days more. A few days more. 
Soon shall we hear the battle's roar : 
The Prince's heel is on the shore, 
Soon shall he reap to-morrow I 

And he who built his walls on high ; 
Who sent his father forth to die ; 
His death comes creeping, creeping nigh : 
He too shall reap to-morrow I 

"3 



KASYAPA 



VI 

Along the path there came the jingling noise 
Of chains and bits, the trampling of the hooves 
Of many horses ; and the tones of men 
Came floating down the winding jungle way. 
The carter stopped his singing, and the priest 
Drew back within the shadow of the cart ; 
For he had seen the leader of the troop, 
And recognized the son of Dhatusen. 
But if they hoped the cavalcade would pass, 
Their wish was foiled, for he who rode ahead 
Drew rein and said, " Migara, ask this man 
Whether his journeys over all the land 
Have brought him any knowledge of this tale 
Of Moggallana's landing in the South." 
At that a lean grey man whose cruel eyes 
Seemed to hide secret counsel in their pools 
Advanced, and speaking so that all might hear, 
Said, " Tell me, carter, have you heard men speak 
Of any other king than Kasyapa 
Claiming to rule Ruhuna in the South ? " 
The carter looked the Prince between the eyes 
And gave no sign of knowing whom he saw, 
But granted him the title of respect 
Due to a man who rode so fine a horse 
And wore such splendid jewels on his throat. 
" My lord," he said, " I journey from the west, 
And have not seen Ruhuna for a year. 
King Kasyapa, men say, is ruling still, 
214 



KASYAPA 

Son of great Dhatusen, who entered rest 
Just eighteen years ago, all but a day. 
And good Prince Moggallana, so men say, 
Has dwelt for eighteen years in Madura. 
I know no other kings, for those who reigned 
In wickedness and cruelty before 
Were slain by Dhatusen long years ago, 
Who later built wide Kalawewa lake, 
And gave old Lanka many years of peace. 
Men say it was great pity that he died 

Before his age had whitened " 

" Hold your peace 1 " 

Cried he who spoke the first. Then struck his horse, 
And galloped madly down the jungle road, 
Pursued by all his mounted followers. 



VII 

All but Migara, who had seen the priest, 
And recognized his aged, wrinkled face 
As that of one of those uncommon men 
Whose very purity of life had led 
To such a clarity of thought and word 
That from his cell there radiated forth 
A subtle influence throughout the realm ; 
So that when men debated some great thing, 
Controversy was calmed and set aside 
By message of what Mahanama thought. 
During the lifetime of King Dhatusen 
Old Mahanama gave but slender thought 

"5 



KASYAPA 

To mundane policy, while all intrigue 
To him was hateful, and a thing too low 
To exercise his transcendental mind. 
But when that friend and pupil of his youth 
Had met his death by sudden violence, 
The priest bethought him of the prototype, 
Recalling how Siddattha had returned 
Out of the realm of concentrated thought 
And shown himself as Buddha to mankind, 
Sharing his wisdom with the humblest men. 
So Mahanama gradually grew 
To live more openly and less aloof 
From all the moving passions of his day ; 
Retaining all his purity of mind, 
Yet comprehending well how other men 
Might be invaluable in their way, 
Although so far from his ideal life 
That he and they could never hope to meet 
Save on a plane so low that its foul air 
Stifled him by its palpable ill taint. 
Yet he choked bravely and worked steadfastly 
To bring enlightenment to those who sought 
Some clearer light to lighten their dull days. 
So, broader now in mind, and not less deep, 
He grew in power that came to him unsought, 
Wielding his wisdom worthily and well, 
Till in the mellow ripeness of his age, 
Though seldom moving from his quiet cave, 
He held a great position in the state. 
And though the King had never cared to call 
216 



KASYAPA 

This counsellor to heal his troubled heart, 
Even the King would not have dared to kill 
The wisest subject of his wide domain, 
The indicator of the nation's mind. 



VIII 

Migara waited while the cavalcade 
Swept swiftly round the angle of the road, 
And then dismounted quickly from his horse 
Saying to Mahanama, " Will you grant 
A moment's private interview with me ? " 
So the old priest descended from the cart 
And walked a little distance down the way, 
While Prince Migara followed with his horse. 
" I recognised your face within the cart. 
You go to Moggallana in the south ? 
Then take him word from me that no attack 
On Sigiri can hope to help his cause. 
The walls of that great fortress on the cliff 
Hang in the sky too high for arrow flight. 
A score of men could hold that citadel 
Against ten thousand, for a thousand years. 
Tell him the rock will never fall by force. 
Warn him to waste no portion of his men 
In holding it beleaguered ; for all vain 
Would be the effort made to starve it out. 
But tell him that the King would never brook 
To see his brother laying waste the land, 
For I will be for ever at his ear 

217 



KASYAPA 

Urging bold action till he venture forth 
To fight an even battle on the plain. 
Then, on the day of battle, let the Prince 
Strike hardily, relying on my help 
As I rely on him when all is done 
To place me on the right hand of the throne." 
Then, without waiting for the priest's reply, 
He mounted all at once and galloped off. 



IX 

The priest looked after his retreating form, 

Wondering how a man could be so base. 

" The man is blind," he thought, " see how he adds 

Burthen on burthen to the heavy load 

His future lives already have to bear ! 

Traitor to him he traitorously placed 

In false security upon a throne 

Guarded by cliffs and crags all powerful 

To save a life, half willing to be saved, 

Half wishful to be ended ; since the end 

Might bring him peace, but might be worse than life. 

For cliff-bound battlements are impotent 

To raise a barrier before the wraith 

Of long dead cruelty and living fear. 

More base," he thought, " is he who instigates 

Than he who does an act of infamy. 

For no man acts without some inner thought 

Of daring all the consequence to come 

If all his subterfuge shall chance to fail ; 

218 



KASYAPA 

While he who whispers in another's ear 

And stands aside to see his agent sin 

Has never formed within his coward heart 

Even that low concept of honesty." 

Then slowly he turned back and joined the cart, 

And slowly they went creaking on their way, 

The bulls' feet shuffling through the rustling leaves. 

Then, while the moonlight trickled through the trees, 

Pouring its pools of light upon the path, 

The carter raised his voice again in song. 



x 

The King passed down : 

The King passed down the steps between the walls. 

But in his ear the voice of fear 

Its endless message calls. 

The King rode out : 

The King rode out and left his haunted halls. 

But by his side there still doth ride 

The stifled voice that calls. 

The King rides by : 

The King rides by, and swift his hoof-beat falls. 

With equal pace there still doth race 

The bitter voice that calls. 

The traitor smiles : 

The traitor smiles to hide the thought that thralls. 

219 



KASYAPA 

His subtle sting shall wound the King 
More than the voice that calls. 



XI 

And then in silence for a while he stayed 

While the moon rode serenely through the sky, 

Till Mahanama broke into his thoughts 

By asking whether he had chanced to hear 

Migara's message for his private ear. 

" No/' said the carter. " But I know the man." 

So on they went in silence once again, 

Lulled by the ceaseless whisp'ring of the woods. 



THE ROCK 

XII 

Kasyapa galloped on along the road, 
Dashing across the chequered light and shade, 
Now white in light, now black beneath the gloom 
Of overhanging trees that shroud the way, 
Till the woods ended like a sudden wall 
And out he flashed into the moonlit fields. 
There he drew rein, and looked across the space 
To where his mighty castle on the cliff 
Cut the deep azure of the cloudless sky. 
The moon shone white upon the towering walls, 
And black were all the shadows of the crag 
Where the rock face was scarped and overhung. 
High on the northern face the gallery 
220 



KASYAPA 

Crept round the curve and climbed the topmost ledge, 

Like some white shining ribbon on the rock 

Five hundred feet above the plain below. 

This was the sole approach, the only way 

By which the royal eyrie could be gained ; 

For all around the cliffs were overhung, 

And nothing wanting wings could hope to climb, 

Save by the winding gallery alone. 

Sheer from the very margin rose the walls, 

Line above line, like shining ivory. 

And higher still the clustered pinnacles 

Grew in a teeming forest from the roofs. 

The King still sat and gazed at them a while, 

Bitterly thinking of the time and toil 

Lavishly squandered to keep out his foe ; 

For now his citadel a prison seemed 

Where he and fear together were immured. 



XIII 

Then slowly Kasyapa moved round the rock, 
Along the road which skirted by the wall 
That girdled in the city with its belt. 
High on his left the chill grey stones shut out 
All vision of the palaces within ; 
And on the parapet the sentinels 
Stood with their arms presented as he passed, 
Each man and spear a clear-cut silhouette 
Painted in black upon the moonlit sky. 
Then, when the gate was reached the word was called, 

221 



KASYAPA 

The drawbridge lowered on its groaning chains ; 

The King rode over, and his horse's hooves 

Rang hard and hollow on the sounding boards, 

While, from the ramp, the silver trumpet pealed, 

And round the frowning cliff the echo rolled 

From rock to rock in mocking waves of sound. 

The streets were quiet as the horsemen rode, 

The houses shuttered, and the folk asleep ; 

Though here and there a little group of men 

Was seen dispersing as the King drew nigh : 

And once from out a narrow alley -way 

He heard some voices raised in loud dispute, 

While, from the words he caught, it seemed as though 

He and his brother were debated there. 



XIV 

On horseback still he passed along the street. 
He rode across the narrow neck of stone 
Between the walls of silent moated keeps 
That formed the second circle of defence. 
He reached the ring of the outlying rocks, 
Vast boulders cleft from off the cliff above 
More than a thousand thousand years before, 
When it had burst all glowing through the plain, 
Thrust by titanic forces from below. 
Between these boulders shadowed pathways ran, 
And up their rugged sides steep narrow steps 
Led to the towers that studded all their tops 
With separate strongholds high above the roofs. 

222 



KASYAPA 

This was the third of the encircling belts 

Of outworks round the peerless citadel. 

And here the King descended from his horse 

To thread the labyrinth between the rocks. 

He mounted flight by flight the stony steps 

That pierced their winding way through terraces, 

Flat above flat, each guarded by a wall, 

Up to the level space where all the flights 

Converged as tributaries to a stair 

Of shining marble leading to the cliff 

That loomed above them like a hanging cloud. 

Higher and higher still King Kasyapa 

Mounted the stair until at last he stood 

On a small platform built into the rock. 

And there he paused and looked upon the town, 

Lying asleep, all silvered by the moon ; 

Where, far below his feet, the narrow streets 

Cut their black channels through the maze of roofs. 

Well might he deem his fort impregnable ; 

For though he stood so high above the town 

The crag rose higher still above his head. 

xv 

From the small terrace built above the stair 
There ran a gallery across the cliff, 
Built into grooves carved in the living rock, 
And over this the shadow of the crag 
Hung leaning out, and made a lofty roof. 
The outer flanking wall was raised so high 
That men might march along in fours abreast 

"3 



KASYAPA 

Invisible to all the town below 

And safe from flight of arrow or of stone. 

And now King Kasyapa passed along 

This passage till he reached the northern end, 

Where the last terrace clung against the cliff. 

Here there were buildings high above the town, 

Yet far below the summit of the crag, 

For here began the steepest climb of all. 

Built where the terrace backed against the rock 

There stood a lion of colossal form, 

With paws extended out on either side, 

Where a broad flight of steps pierced through his breast 

And, twisting in a spire, came out at last 

Against the cliff above the lion's head. 

This was the single point in all the ring 

That was not overhung by cliffs above ; 

The solitary way a man might scale 

The rocky face. And here a hanging cage 

Was fixed into the rocks by solid beams 

That made a trap-door for a single man 

To pass at once. 

The King passed through the door 
Where a last gallery crept from the cage 
And mounted steeply, clinging to the rock 
As cling the muddy cells of mason bees. 
Flight after flight of steps led up at last 
To the great circle of white walls that crowned 
The head of Sigiri the Lion Rock. 
Then Kasyapa passed in, and once again 
The silver trumpet pealed to welcome him. 
224 



KASYAPA 

THE CITADEL 

XVI 

The wind blew freshly over Sigiri, 

And in a comer of the palace ground 

There sat two maidens, daughters of the King, 

Bodhi and Uppala, whose ripening years 

Under the Southern summer of that sky 

Had made them grow apace while still their minds 

Were those of children, whom their nurse's tales 

Left unashamed and innocent as birds. 

The world to them was but the citadel, 

With all its panorama spreading far, 

An ever-changing picture-book that lay 

For ever open to their wond'ring eyes. 

The city with its girdle of high walls 

Lay like an ant's-nest underneath their feet, 

A thing of mystery that they beheld 

Inhabited by many sorts of men 

Who crawled like insects on its narrow streets, 

And hummed like insects too, at festivals, 

When all came out in colours bright and gay. 

The lake that lapped the southern terraces 

Lay like a sheet of sapphire in the plain, 

Changing in colour with the changing winds 

That ruffled all its waters as they fled. 

While to the south the rampart of the hills 

Towered in the sky, and mothered many storms 

That swept across the plain their dim grey veils. 

P 2J 



KASYAPA 



XVII 

East, north and west, the plain lay like a plate, 
Dappled with light and shade, with green and blue, 
Where fields and forests, lakes and rivers lay, 
While far away they saw the mighty domes 
Of dagabas that stood against the glow 
When sunset painted all the west with gold. 
These were the limits of the life they led : 
To know their servants and a few of those 
Who stood most closely to their father's throne ; 
To know a host of others but as men 
Whose duties placed them nearer for a time ; 
To know the palace and the citadel ; 
And, for the rest, to gaze across the plain 
Wondering, dreaming of the things that hid 
Their essence in its many-coloured face. 
Yet even they had felt the vague unrest 
That permeated all the palace staff ; 
And often they had seen their father's face 
Clouded when all the shining sky was clear. 
They never tried to analyse the gloom 
That settled over Kasyapa's court ; 
But yet they vaguely felt that some day soon 
All this would end, and they would pass away 
Into the teeming life that filled the plain. 
And now her sister said to Uppala, 
" Let us sing songs to wile away the time 
Until our father comes to give the news 
He promised us to-day." 
226 



KASYAPA 

Then a clear voice 
Sang of the shady woods where fairies dwell. 



XVIII 

The orchids hanging from the tree 
Set all their wealth of fragrance free, 
And when they flower the fairies' bower 
Is changed by their enchanted power 
Into a wizard's magic tower 
Such as we dream but never see. 

The fairies in their forest lair 
Find jewels in the torrents there. 
The dusky green of tourmaline, 
The moonstone's opalescent sheen, 
The rubies fit to grace a queen, 
They weave into their shining hair. 

And where they see the sapphires gleam 
They dive into the jungle stream. 
The shining hue of pebbles blue, 
The golden-hearted topaz too 
They gather in, and fling a few 
Into a poor princess' dream. 



XIX 

After her sister, Bddhi sang in turn 

A song she learned from listening to the girl 

227 



KASYAPA 

Who used to teach them their embroidery ; 
A song she did not wholly understand, 
But liked to sing because the melody 
Was sweet and haunting to her childish ear ; 
And partly too because she liked to think 
That even young princesses sometimes loved 
Like other people in the outer world. 



xx 

The princess stood on the castle wall 
And saw the world was fair ; 
She dropped a pebble and watched it fall 
Down to the ledge where the falcons call 
Their love-note when they pair. 

The clouds fly over the mountain peak, 
Their shadows race below ; 
And if the shadows could only speak 
They'd tell princesses what they seek 
And where they wish to go. 

The princess stood in her father's hall 
With jewels in her hair ; 
She saw that the prince was straight and tall, 
And vowed to love him whate'er befall, 
Resolved her fate to dare. 

The wind blows out of the empty sky 
And no one sees him pass ; 
228 



KASYAPA 

Over the fields where he races by 

You see the path where his footsteps fly 

Across the silvered grass. 

The prince climbed up by a silken cord 
And pressed her in his arms ; 
Qosely she clung to her chosen lord, 
While into her willing car he poured 
The story of her charms. 

The storms sweep down from the southern lulls 

Across the steaming ground ; 

The breath of their galloping outpost chills : 

The rolling roar of the thunder stills 

All other lesser sound. 

The princess cried till her eyes were red, 
And raged against her fate ; 
Her heart was racked by a haunting dread ; 
She called for the prince, but the prince was dead 
Her message came too late. 

The lightning struck on the castle wall 
In sudden blinding flash ; 
The scared attendants rushed to the call 
Of the maid who had seen the princess fall 
Dead in the thunder's crash. 

The stone that fell, and the clouds that flew, 
The lightning stroke so blind, 



KASYAPA 

The storm that swept and the wind that blew 
Are gone, princess, and where are you, 
Who found the flash so kind ? 

XXI 

When Bodhi finished singing, Uppala 
Went to the wall and dropped a pebble down ; 
For sheer below the palace on this side 
There lay no houses, but a maze of stones. 
Then round the rock there came a flying bird 
Who swept across their vision in a curve 
With wings bent sharply back, with feet and head 
Held tightly in. He passed beneath their eyes 
Without a single wing-beat, and without 
Moving a feather from its rigid line. 
" This is the very place she dropped the stone, 
For here the falcon lives ! " cried Uppala. 
" And even now," said Bodhi, " shadows chase 
Below the clouds that race across the sky. 
Who knows ? The next verse may be true as well, 
For here come footsteps down the garden steps. 
Hark, Uppala ! Perhaps it is the prince ! " 
Out of the flowering shrubs there came a man 
Dressed all in yellow, with a yellow face 
Seamed with a hundred little smiling lines, 
The gentle strokes of wisdom's graving tool 
Where sun, and wind, and thought, and character 
Had signed their share of all the kindly work. 
He was a Chinaman, a wand'ring monk, 
Who now for many years had spent his time 
230 



KASYAPA 

In making copies of the sacred books, 

Laboriously toiling day by day, 

Writing on palm leaves with a pointed style, 

After the manner of the Sinhalas. 

For he had vowed his work for thirty years 

To this great object, that he might return 

To his old monastery far away 

And make a gift of all his precious books. 

And he alone of all the host of monks 

Who came to visit the great citadel 

Had gained the friendship of King Kasyapa, 

Who granted him the freedom of the grounds. 

With the two children he would often sit, 

Telling them tales of strange and wondrous lands 

That he had travelled over since the day 

When, years ago, he left the flowery land. 

So now the children hailed him with delight, 

And Uppala cried out, " You are my prince I " 

Not comprehending what she meant, but pleased, 

As aged people always are to find 

Their coming welcomed by a pretty child, 

The old monk took a seat upon the wall, 

Saying, " And you, my dear, are my princess." 

" Then tell us stories of your wanderings," 

Said both princesses. " Tell us how you came 

To cross the mountains of the snowy north." 

XXII 

" Long years ago," he said, " when I was young, 
As young as you, my little Uppala, 

231 



KASYAPA 

My father took me to a holy hill, 
Clothed in dark forest from the lower slopes; 
Up to the cap of everlasting snow 
That shone in rivalry among the clouds. 
For a whole day we clambered up the steps 
Until my legs gave way from weariness, 
And there we rested in a little hut 
That looked across the miles of misty blue. 
Early next morning we went on again 
Until we reached a gloomy place of caves, 
Dark hollows under overhanging rocks, 
Where lived a thousand men in yellow robes. 
And there my father left me with a monk, 
And told me not to fear, and kissed my face 
Before he turned again and passed away 
Out of my sight and life, though memory 
Retains his picture fresher every year. 
So there I stayed. They took away my clothes 
And dressed me in a little yellow robe. 
For years and years I lived among the caves, 
Seeing no strangers but the few who climbed 
To worship for a day and to depart. 
I had no knowledge of the outer world 
Except my recollection of the days 
When I and other children used to play. 
All was so still and peaceful that my mind 
Grew calm and even as a stream that flows 
Between the level meadows full of flowers. 
Part of my duty was to meditate, 
And sometimes, sitting in my shady cell, 
232 



KASYAPA 

I felt as though the mountain and the woods 
Were part of me, and I were part of them. 
And so for many years I lived in peace : 
But in the end there came a wondrous change. 



XXIII 

" There was a jutting boulder, rising high 

Above the forest and above the caves ; 

And there, from time to time I used to sit, 

Watching the changing colours of the plain. 

Far, far below, beyond the mountain foot, 

Beside a winding strand of silver cord 

There spread a vivid patch of red and white. 

They said it was a city, though to me 

It merely seemed to be a sort of stain ; 

For what a city was, I hardly knew, 

But often longed to know. At last one day 

I told the oldest of the yellow monks 

This great desire that occupied my mind, 

Making my meditations almost vain. 

He was a man as wise as he was old 

And kind as he was wise : for those who know 

The inner working of the human soul 

Are very nearly always good and kind. 

He took me to the temple library, 

Where the old volumes stood in serried rows, 

And told me how a monk of olden time 

Had spent his life in copying the tomes 

Preserved in distant lands, where Buddha's word 

'33 



KASYAPA 

Was known more early and received more pure 

Than we had ever had the chance to gain : 

How he had travelled on for years and years, 

And in the end returned to make a gift 

Of all his learning and his store of books. 

So, in due course, he sent me on my way, 

And after travelling for several years 

I settled in this city on the rock, 

And learned your tongue, and learned to love your land. 

For two years more I have this work to do 

Before I end my toil and seek my rest 

Among the caves beneath the cap of snow." 



XXIV 

Bohdi and Uppala were so absorbed 
They never noticed that their father stood 
Beside them, till he spoke, and said, " I too 
Have come to tell my daughters of a place 
Where weary minds may find eternal rest 
From all the turmoil of this troubled world. 
When in the west you see the setting sun 
Descend in flames behind the burning rim 
Of this wide plain, you see the mighty domes 
Of dagabas like bubbles on the earth, 
Raising their bulk against the western glow. 
And there, my children, you have often heard, 
Lies Anuradhapura, that great town 
Where, for a thousand years, your ancestors 
Reigned as the kings of Lanka. To the south 
234 



KASYAPA 

Of the most southern dagaba you see, 

There is a labyrinth of old black rocks 

With ancient caves, where holy men of old 

Cut deep inscriptions few can read to-day. 

But these old caves had fallen in disuse 

Till their sole habitants had come to be 

A tribe of porcupines and hosts of bats. 

Wishing to mark my reign by memories 

Of pious institutions, I have cleared 

The tangle of the thorns that overran 

This ancient site, and built a nunnery, 

Including all the cells among the rocks 

With other buildings in one ordered scheme. 

And on the rock beside the largest cave 

I bid them carve the names of those to whom 

Posterity will give the praise it owes. 

There, on the rock, are cut the names of these : 

Uppala, Bod hi, and King Kasyapa : 

In letters that will last a thousand years." 

He kissed the children and dismissed them then, 

Proud that their names should be so proudly carved 

That for a thousand years the pious nuns 

Might read and bless the founders of their home. 

So the two children, smiling, went away, 

Leaving the monk with Kasyapa alone. 

XXV 

Then the King turned toward the foreign monk 
And looked at him in silence for a while ; 
Till, seeming satisfied by what he saw, 



KASYAPA 

He said, " The lady who has taken charge 
Of this new nunnery among the rocks 
Is named Lilavati. And even you 
Must know her for my sister, and the wife 
Of Prince Migara : but she left the Prince 
Just eighteen years ago." 

He waited then 

As though desirous that the monk should speak. 
But still the Chinaman sat silently. 
So Kasyapa continued : " When I came 
To hold the dignity I occupy 
Great trouble threatened Lanka, for a feud 
Divided Moggallana and myself. 
And now once more the danger comes apace, 
For Moggallana landed in the south 
Some days ago. I do not wish to hear 
How much you know of that old tragedy ; 
But in your hands I place a sacred trust. 
If, in the battle that will surely come, 
Victory turns her face away from me, 
Then swiftly take my children in your care. 
Take them in secret to Lilavati 
And leave their innocence to win her love. 
Of those about the court, trust not one soul, 
For kings are only kings when victory 
Shows that the gods are willing they should reign. 
And, above all, Migara must be foiled : 
For if a horrid traitor ever lived, 
It is Migara." 



236 



KASYAPA 

XXVI 

While he heard the King 
The monk had moved no muscle of his face, 
But now the net of wrinkles round his eyes 
Seemed like a thousand marks of honesty. 
" All other things," he said, " shall be as naught 
Until I have succeeded in my charge. 
For in this sterile monkish breast of mine 
The love of children lieth very deep, 
And of all children I have ever known 
Yours are the very closest to my heart. 
None will suspect an aged foreigner ; 
So feel no fear your trust in me will fail. 
I too have watched the dark'ning of the storm 
And wished there were some way for me to pay 
The kindness you have ever shown to me. 
The favour that you ask me is a gift 
I shall accept with heartfelt gratitude 
Should fate decide against you in the field." 
Then Kasyapa grasped him by the hand 
And went away without another word, 
For he loved those two children more than life. 



THE CAMP 

XXVII 

Where a wide shallow river reached the sea 
Prince Moggallana tarried for a time ; 
While through Ruhuna his ambassadors 



KASYAPA 

Sounded the chiefs and princes of the south. 

Memory sifts and purifies so well 

That few were left who knew King Dhatusen 

That did not think his reign a golden age, 

A time of noble and heroic deeds 

Following after years of foreign yoke. 

Even the least of men in looking back 

Felt he had moved in days when kings were strong, 

And, in imagination, lived again 

The stirring chapters of his lusty youth. 

For thus old memory can paint with gold 

And glorify with distance all the past. 

Kasyapa had not sought his people's love, 

But neither, in his day, had Dhatusen ; 

While Moggallana still remained unknown 

Save to a faithful few who crossed the sea 

To share his exile in a foreign town. 

Thus many were inclined to let things rest 

So to avoid a cruel civil war. 

But all the power wielded by the Church 

Was thrown into the scale against the King, 

Who cared not much for monast'ries and monks. 

So, through the land from all the monast'ries 

There moved an army of determined priests 

Urging the nobles to take up their arms 

To seat Prince Moggallana on the throne. 

But still the greater princes held aloof, 

Until one day there crept a creaking cart 

Into the royal camp beside the sea, 

And word went forth that Mahanama came 

238 



KASYAPA 

To lend the Prince his counsel and his aid. 
So high his wisdom stood in men's esteem 
That his adherence to the Prince's cause 
Determined all Ruhuna to his side, 
And men came pouring forth from all the hills 
To swell the army on the southern shore. 

XXVIII 

The camp was pitched beside the river bank, 

Where sandy dunes, all grey with tufted grass, 

Spread out for miles an undulating waste. 

And far away across the plain there rose 

The long blue line of mountains in the north. 

The piping notes of birds along the shore, 

The curlews with their melancholy cries 

Made music with the thunder of the sea, 

Where long blue waves reared up their heads and roared 

To find their rolling path across the deep 

Barred by the rampart of the coral reef. 

Here Moggallana sat with the old priest 

Watching the muddy river spread its fan 

Of tawny stain that fouled the sunny blue, 

And cut a passage through the coral wall 

By smothering the teeming architects 

Who built the reef of their cementing cells. 



XXIX 

And now old Mahanama told the Prince 
The message of Migara in the wood. 



KASYAPA 

" It is for you to judge," said he, " the worth 
Of his assistance, for the man is vile. 
Already twice a traitor, he may turn 
And stab once more the son of him he killed." 
So Moggallana pondered for a while 
Before he answered. 

" I have never seen 
This citadel upon the rock," he said. 
Is Sigiri indeed so great a fort, 
Impregnable to all the arts of siege, 
That I must lay my people's country waste 
To lure my brother from his eagle's nest ? 
I hate Migara's subtle, wicked scheme 
Even as I detest the man himself ; 
And I mistrust as much as I detest 
This plan of laying waste the countryside. 
Better it were to guard my people's lands 
And gain their love by honest openness. 
For if my enemy declines to move 
While I destroy their homes, my men may deem 
A tyrant cooped within a citadel 
Less hateful than a tyrant on their lands. 
Perhaps Migara would destroy me thus ! 
If I attack at once with all my force 
And hurl these mountain men against its heights, 
Sigiri may not prove inviolate." 
" My prince," said Mahanama, " if you saw, 
As I have seen, that ring of frowning rock, 
You would not dare to entertain a hope 
Of storming it. If you could only stand, 
240 



KASYAPA 

As I have stood, beneath those hanging crags, 
You could not help but gaze in wondering 
At the most mighty work a king has wrought 
In all this island for a thousand years. 
Even a squirrel could not scale those cliffs 
Save by the single one appointed path. 
Either accept this help, however vile, 
Or spare your country from the storm of war. 
It is for you to judge, for only you 
Can bear the burthen of decision now." 



XXX 

Old Mahdnama had not lived so long 
Without observing that the minds of kings 
Must seem to settle of their own accord, 
Even when asking for direct advice. 
And he repeated, " Only you can judge." 
So Moggalldna looked across the reef 
Where breakers waged their everlasting war, 
But gained, or seemed to gain, no inch of ground. 
Travelling over miles of rolling sea 
They struck the barrier with sounding crash, 
And flung their force upon the velvet face 
Of living cells that multiplied too fast 
To weary of the ceaseless battering. 
" So might I fling my living waves," he thought, 
"Against the reef that Kasyapa has built. 
Even the sea does not disdain the aid 
Of this brown sluggish stream that pours its mud 
Q 241 



KASYAPA 

Upon the little builders of the reef, 

And wins a way by foulness through the walls 

That stand the shock of all the beating waves. 

My ships sailed through the passage cut by mud ; 

And rather than relinquish all my hope 

I too will sink my pride and pay the price 

The traitor asks me." 



XXXI 

Then he turned and said, 
" A messenger shall leave the camp to-night 
To seek Migara. Tell me whom to trust, 
For I am still a stranger to the men 
I come to rule. The messenger must be 
A man unknown to those about the court." 
Then Mahanama said, " I know a man 
Whose sterling character has gained the name 
Of Honest Carter, given him by those 
With whom he deals. He is a man of worth 
Whom I have trusted now for eighteen years. 
Long years ago he used to be a monk, 
But left his cell to follow in the wars 
When Dhatusen drove out the Cholan hordes. 
And on that last sad journey to the lake 
He drove your father, and became his friend 
As far as such a man as he might gain 
The friendship of a king." 

So late that night 

The Honest Carter started on his way, 
242 



KASYAPA 

And while he wound along the forest road, 
Through the dark passes of the mountain range, 
He raised his voice in song. 

I guided once a King upon his way ; 

I helped him see the sun shine through the grey ; 

And sang to soothe the sorrow of the King. 

I saw him break from darkness into day ; 
I watched his cloud of sorrow melt away ; 
And sang from joy of living with the King. 

They buried him alive within a wall ; 

For eighteen years I watched for fate to fall ; 

And vowed a vow of vengeance for the King. 

And now I hear the singing of the sword ; 
Soon will my vow of vengeance for my lord 
Be paid in service to his son the King. 

A wanderer without a known abode, 
Who drives alone along the jungle road, 
Yet can I yield my service to the King. 

For all the maze of paths among the hills, 

And all the little rivers and the rills 

Are known to me, and I can guide the King. 

243 



KASYAPA 



THE KING 

XXXIII 

Out from the palace in the citadel 
A narrow gallery ran down the rock, 
Where in the western face of Sigiri 
A little shallow cavern had been shaped 
To form a seat upon the very verge 
Below the walls that crowned the cliff above. 
And here the King was wont to sit and watch 
The screaming swallows pouring from the rock 
Like living streams of flying arrow-heads. 
For something in their wild activity 
Drew him away from all his brooding thoughts, 
Until he almost felt as though he shared 
The freedom of their whirling stream of flight. 
But now the swallows had come home to rest, 
And still he sat and scanned the distant hills 
Where watch-fires flickered all along the spurs, 
Marking the lines of Moggallana's host. 
His heart was bitter while he watched the fires ; 
For now he knew himself to be betrayed, 
And dared no longer hope to hold the rock 
Where half the garrison would yield the gates 
Rather than risk their lives in his defence. 
A week had passed since Prince Migara came, 
Urging him forth to drive his brother back. 
The traitor's smooth and subtle arguments 
Had stung the King to answer him in wrath, 
244 



KASYAPA 

Bidding him serve his brother openly. 

That night Migara left with all his force, 

And Kasyapa knew his cause was doomed. 

He was not utterly an evil man, 

Though weak and vain, and he had been the tool 

Migara used to carve his way to power. 

Galling enough it seemed to think that he, 

The King, had now been used and cast away : 

But in his heart he knew it to be true. 

He bitterly repented of the crime 

That placed him on his murdered father's throne, 

And ever in his dreams he heard the voice 

Of his dead father calling in his ear, 

Until he now no longer wished to live. 



XXXIV 

In Kasyapa the faculty of joy 

Was greater than among the common run, 

But balanced by a higher power to feel 

All other strong emotions, good or ill. 

And whether it is happier for us 

To traverse evenly one placid plane, 

Or to walk now with gods, and now with fiends, 

Revelling in the blaze that lights the peak, 

Grovelling in the darkness of the pit, 

No man can tell ; for none hath trod both paths. 

So when the cruel hardness of his heart 

That sent his father to his dreadful end 

Relaxed once more, Kasyapa's soul was torn 



KASYAPA 

By all the tortures of profound remorse. 
Night after night he paced the garden paths, 
A moonlit spectre haunted by unrest, 
Striding as though he trusted to outpace 
The ghost he carried in his inner mind. 
And often, in the palace corridors, 
They saw him standing looking to the east, 
Where palest lemon spread across the sky, 
Repeating to himself in weary tones 
The words he uttered in the audience hall 
When bidding Dhatusen go forth to die : 
" And stand him there to face the rising sun, 
Which he shall wait to see for evermore." 



XXXV 

At last the phantom of insomnia 
Drove him with sudden energy to move 
The court and seat of all his government 
To Sigiri ; where occupation healed 
His mental trouble, and at last he found 
The joy that comes of using all one's wits. 
From all the districts round a host of men 
Toiled day by day to build the citadel ; 
While from the early morning till the night 
Kasyapa drove them fiercely to their work, 
Until the architects and engineers 
Dreaded his presence as a pestilence. 
But even they were forced to praise his taste, 
And to acknowledge all the skill he showed 
246 



KASYAPA 

In utilizing all their faculties, 
Playing upon their brains with certain touch. 
His was the master mind that chose the plan, 
Though theirs the training skilled to give effect ; 
So when the citadel at last was built, 
It bore the signet of his genius, 
And was by far the noblest work of art 
Their nation had created from the first. 
But, when the work was ended, once again 
The old obsession seized upon his mind, 
And round the balcony that ringed the rock 
He used to pace all night in search of sleep. 



XXXVI 

Now all the palaces of Lanka's kings 
Held lovely faces waiting for their time 
In readiness to please the King at will. 
And when the King had found his old remorse 
Once more upon him, he looked round in fear 
To find some more effective anodyne. 
It was not far to seek, and for a time 
He plunged into the wildest of excess 
And ranged the gamut of relaxing vice. 
But this too failed in time, and once again 
The spectre hovered in his sleepless eyes. 
Then one day in the palace library 
He happened on the ancient Chinaman, 
And came in time to find in him a friend. 
The monk had often watched the restless King, 

247 



KASYAPA 

Knowing full well the cause of his distress ; 

But had not dared to offer him advice 

Until one day he told a parable. 

" There was a king," he said, " who could not sleep 

Because a sort of madness seized his mind ; 

And after he had wandered through the maze 

Of many kinds of mental agony, 

He happened to be walking in a wood 

When silver laughter fell upon his ear, 

And peering through the bushes there he saw 

Two pretty children playing with the flowers. 

Who can these be that seem so full of joy ? 

He asked the courtier standing by his side. 

Your Majesty, these children are your own, 

The man replied. And from that very day 

The King began to love their happy minds, 

And found his melancholy melt away." 

Kasyapa smiled to hear the simple monk 

Set gravely forward his transparent tale, 

But tried in turn this remedy himself, 

Nor, like the others, did he find it fail. 



XXXVII 

This was the purest joy of all his life, 
The altruism of unselfish love ; 
For while he hardly cared or hoped to live 
During the days he wallowed in his vice, 
This friendship formed within his very home 
Had raised again his hopes of happiness. 
248 



KASYAPA 

In strict proportion as a man can hope, 
So can he fear, and now the haunted King 
Dreaded that Moggallana might invade 
The land, and shatter all his dream of peace. 
The echo of his murdered father's voice 
Had only passed away to give its place 
To aching fear of violence and war. 
So now the King built mighty outer walls, 
And inner rings of forts among the rocks ; 
While oversea he sent a trusted man 
To try and stab his brother in the street, 
Who failed, and under torture gave the names 
Of those who had involved him in the crime, 
Plunging the King once more in vain regret. 
This was an age when superstition reigned ; 
For Buddhism had fallen from the height 
The earlier disciples had maintained. 
The modern monks cared less about their souls 
Than that their bodies should be richly housed. 
The King was tainted with the same belief, 
And tried by building temples to absolve 
And clear his conscience of this new remorse. 
Twas thus he came to found the nunnery ; 
And looking forward with uncertain gaze, 
He saw in that calm refuge from the world 
A haven for his children in the end. 

XXXVIII 

The watch-fires twinkled on among the hills. 
While Kasyapa lived again the past, 



KASYAPA 

Gazing with eyes half dazzled by their light, 

But seeing nothing but the living thoughts 

That followed one another through his mind. 

Then all at once he heard a gentle voice, 

And looking round he saw the Chinaman. 

" The moon is rising and the time has come, 

We must be moving very shortly now." 

Silently they climbed up the narrow stair, 

And all in silence passed the little door 

That led into the chamber of the King. 

Bodhi and Uppala were waiting there 

With keen excitement sparkling in their eyes. 

Then Kasyapa took them in his arms 

And said, " My children, you are going now 

To see the nunnery I built for you. 

Whatever the monk tells you, you must do. 

Farewell my Bodhi. Farewell Uppala. 

Never forget that you and I were friends ; 

Never remember me as aught but kind ; 

Never believe I did not love you both 

More than the wealth of all the world beside." 

He kissed them, and they parted from his sight, 

Thinking with wonder at his final words, 

And drinking in the glamour of the night 

That brought such strange adventure to their lives. 



XXXIX 

Since Moggallana landed in the south 
The King had watched Migara narrowly. 
250 



KASYAPA 

The pause with Mahanama in the wood 
Had not escaped him, for he too had seen 
The figure of the priest within the cart. 
And when Migara urged him to march out 
He hid his feeling, for he knew the Prince 
Believed no argument would make him move. 
Then, suddenly unmasking half his mind, 
He bade Migara b'e no more, but go. 
He did not care to reign upon the cliff 
While Moggallana ruled the land all round ; 
Nor did he dare to leave the citadel 
With such a traitor in its very heart ; 
While to march out, Migara by his side, 
Were to court treachery within his camp. 
So he deceived Migara till the time 
Was ripe for action. Then he let him go 
To carry his deception to the hills, 
And baffle Moggallana in his plans. 
The King was not a coward in the field : 
Action of any kind excited him, 
And danger lighted up his gloomy mind 
With a fierce burning flame of energy. 
Now that the time was ripe he felt no fear, 
But swiftly ranged his forces for attack, 
Hoping by speed to balance greater strength, 
And to strike Moggallana such a blow 
As would for once and all decide the war. 
So on the night that followed the farewell 
Bade to his children, he came down the rock 
And personally led his striking force 



KASYAPA 

Along the causeway traversing the lake, 

Out by a forest track but little used, 

Into the mountains where the watch-fires flared. 

Higher and higher up the mountain side 

They climbed until the ring of winking fires 

All lay below. And there they waited dawn. 



THE BATTLE 

XL 

Below the ridges where the ring of fires 
Flickered with dancing flames against the sky 
Prince Moggallana lay with all his troops, 
Camped on the western slope above a stream 
That trickled sluggishly between the fern. 
Migara's army now had swelled his force 
To such a strength that hopes ran very high, 
And on the morrow he had fixed to move 
Nearer to Sigiri. For still he thought 
The rock might yet be stormed if Kasyapa 
Sullenly waited, circled by his walls. 
Even Migara counselled him to march, 
For Kasyapa, he thought, would never leave 
The prison safety of the citadel. 
Beyond the stream there lay a belt of flat, 
Where rushes grew and bracken stood so high 
That men could walk erect and yet be hid. 
And all the night the raucous song of frogs 
And humming of a myriad of gnats 
Warned that the swampy ground was not yet dry. 
252 



KASYAPA 

XLI 

The jagged outline of the higher hills 

Was thrown in black relief against the glow 

Of palest yellow creeping up the sky, 

When from the men at watch along the ridge 

There suddenly arose a warning cry : 

Then men came pouring down the further slope. 

The camp broke into swift activity, 

And all around an uproar mounted high, 

A din of shouts and orders intermixed 

With clashing arms and hurried trampling feet. 

Hither and thither ran the startled men, 

Confusing all the camp in chaos wild. 

Elephants trumpeted along their lines, 

And through the throng there forged a mighty beast, 

Brought by his faithful rider to the Prince. 

Across the marsh they saw the enemy 

Come charging madly down the further slope, 

Leaping the bushes, shouting, waving swords, 

And calling out the name of Kasyapa. 

XLII 

Prince Moggallana mounted the great beast, 

Calling on all to rally by his side ; 

And now some order entered in the whirl. 

The wild confusion checked, and streams of men 

Poured out upon the slopes on either flank, 

Extending like a hedge along the stream, 

Where glittering spears awaited the attack. 



KASYAPA 

Arrows came shrilling swiftly through the air, 

Quivering where they struck into the soil, 

And cutting breaches in the hedge of men. 

Away upon the right they heard the roar 

Of battle coming nearer, and the clang 

Of sword on shield, the cries of fighting men, 

The scream of elephants, the twang of bows ; 

And now the battle-cry of enemies 

Came surging ever nearer than before. 

Right in the front, beyond the little stream, 

The King pressed forward on an elephant, 

Forcing a way across the yielding swamp 

And followed by the pick of all his men, 

Who soon were hidden by the moving fern. 

Into the tangle flights of arrows poured, 

Calling out screams and yells, while Kasyapa 

Drove through and through, as though he meant to 

break 
The thickset hedge of men around the Prince. 



XLIII 

But now the elephant was seen to sink, 
Until his heaving back alone arose 
An island in the sea of moving fern. 
The savage goad was reddened in his blood, 
But in the marsh he could not feel his feet, 
Wallowing helplessly in yielding mud : 
Till Kasyapa turned his head again 
To seek a firmer path for his advance, 
254 



KASYAPA 

And for the moment showing them his back. 
Then from the struggling wings of the attack 
There rose a cry, " The King has turned and fled 1 " 
Now Moggallana saw his time had come, 
And urged his elephant along the front, 
Dividing all his force to right and left, 
So as to charge around the fickle swamp. 



xuv 

King Kasyapa hardly had emerged 

From out the fatal tangle of the fern, 

When right and left he saw his wings bent back 

Before the pressure of the charging foe. 

While some fought stubbornly for every yard, 

Others already broke in dastard flight : 

And soon he saw his brother's elephant 

Pressing against the line of struggling men. 

The slopes behind were thick with flying forms, 

And bitterly he cursed them as they fled. 

" But for the marsh," he cried, " I would have won 

It now remains to finish as a King I " 

With that he drove his elephant apace 

Straight at the line where Moggallana rode. 

But as he came his men gave way and broke. 

Soon he was circled in on every side. 

His elephant was wounded, and his shield 

Was dinted over with the stabs of spears. 

Then from his weary hand there fell his sword : 






KASYAPA 

From out his belt he drew a dagger forth 
And plunged it fiercely deep into his throat. 
Slowly he sank upon the elephant, 
Bowing his head upon its reeking neck. 
And so he died : unconquered to the end. 



XLV 

They took the diadem from oft' the dead 
And placed it on his brother's living brow, 
Who gazed upon the corpse, and turned and said, 
" His death was worthy of his royal blood. 
Carry him out with honour to the place 
Where kings of Lanka from the mist of time 
Have all been burned upon their funeral pyres, 
And there perform the rites of ancient days." 



XLVI 

So Moggallana passed across the plain 

To Anuradhapura in the north, 

And there ascended his forefather's throne. 

The peerless citadel of Sigiri 

Was handed over as a splendid gift 

To honour the community of monks ; 

And the first abbot of the mighty rock 

Was Mahanama. There he lived his days 

Writing the history of all the past 

Since the first founder of the Sinhalas, 

256 



KASYAPA 

Till he too passed away and joined the whole, 
Of which he had so worthily formed part. 
The Honest Carter met with just reward, 
For Moggallana placed him in the court 
As the chief keeper of the palace gate, 
Where for the evening of his lengthy days 
He used to sit and sing his endless songs, 
The friend of all the children in the place. 



XLVII 

The bitterness sown by a king 

Must grow at last. 

The harvest of weeds with their deadly sting 

Will be ripe before summer is past. 

We must wait until summer is past. 

The harvest of weeds was too strong 
For us to reap. 

The king was choked and we laboured long, 
But the seed had been planted too deep. 
Yes, the roots had grown down far too deep. 

The son of the king brought his sword 
To aid our fight. 

We followed the lead of our gracious lord, 
And cut a path through to the light. 
Yes, we fought our way out to the light. 



KASYAPA 

The seed that was set in the soil 

No more is sown. 

The reapers rest from their weary toil, 

And the king has come back to his own. 

May the gods hold him safe in his own. 



PART IV 

VARIOUS SONGS AND 
SKETCHES 



PATHS 

There are paths that pierce the maze of tangled lies 
Which rings the hidden temple of the true ; 

And every conscious being some path tries, 
But few indeed are worthy to win through. 



261 



THE PATH OF PAIN 



THE hills above the waterfall 
Are dark with forest from the brink 
Up to the towering marble wall 
Of shining cliffs, whose coral pink 
Borrows from sunset stains like blood, 
Where sleepless echo hears and mocks 
The sullen thunder of the flood 
Tumbling among the sounding rocks, 
And rows of dim and ancient caves 
Hide some forgotten people's graves. 



II 

Down where the waters take their leap 
The trees lean out and fret and toss, 
While all along their branches creep 
White shaggy beards of hanging moss 
That drip into the pool beneath, 
Where clouds of spray float out in steam 
That fills the forest with its breath, 
Clothing the boulders by the stream 
With filagree of flowers and ferns, 
Where balsam's glowing scarlet burns. 
262 



THE PATH OF PAIN 

in 

The people of the jungle round 
Hold these old caves in nameless dread, 
Taking the echo's endless sound 
To be the voices of the dead ; 
So, for perhaps a thousand years, 
No foot had trod their dim retreat, 
Until one day his scorn of fears 
Led a strange man their gloom to greet 
As a fit setting for his own, 
And in their depth he lived alone. 

IV 

He knew no more than all the rest, 
He feared no less the power of ghosts, 
And chilling terror stabbed his breast 
To hear the seething of the hosts 
Of bats within the haunted caves, 
When, in the evening, out they poured, 
Fluttering forth in dusky waves. 
It was not that his mind was broad, 
But that he scorned all fear as vain 
And chose to tread the path of pain. 

v 

To him the ghosts were real and true, 

A veritable cause for fear, 

For in the echo as it flew 

He often thought that he could hear 



THE PATH OF PAIN 

The muttering of tones that fled 

Around that lonely solemn place 

As fly the spirits of the dead. 

Then he would sit with stiffened face 

And fortify his rigid will 

These panic fears to face and still. 



VI 

But only while those fears were new ; 
And soon he heard the echo play 
Around the rocks, and through and through 
The hollow caverns, dark and day, 
Without a qualm of any kind. 
The rumbling voices did no harm, 
So he dismissed them from his mind, 
Forgetting all his old alarm, 
And with more vigour than before 
Followed his chosen path once more. 



VII 

Few were the pleasures of the lot 
That life had offered him at birth, 
But those few things a man has got 
Often appear of greater worth 
As relatively they are small, 
Or reckoned small except by those 
To whom they seem as all in all. 
Yet he deliberately chose 
264 



THE PATH OF PAIN 

To hold all pleasure in disdain, 
That he might seek the path of pain. 



VIII 

To render all a man may give, 

To suffer all a man can feel 

While yet continuing to live, 

While yet endeavouring to steel 

His frame to further sacrifice, 

Were the strange tenets of his sect 

Who paid in misery the price 

That ranked their souls with the elect, 

Who garner in another life 

The harvest of this world of strife. 



IX 

Narrow and rigid as a cleft 
Deep fissured in an ancient rock 
That some internal force has reft, 
His mind retained its meagre stock 
Of fixed ideas that never changed 
No/ modified a single view, 
However far his body ranged, 
As though in search of something new. 
He sought not love, nor rest, nor gain, 
But followed on his path of pain. 



THE PATH OF PAIN 



Within the darkest of the caves 
He built himself a bed of thorn 
Among the terror-haunted graves, 
Laying his body there with scorn, 
To find that still his flesh could quail 
As once his spirit quailed before : 
But soon he found this penance fail, 
As once had failed the echo's roar, 
To mortify his tortured soul, 
Urging it nearer to the goal. 

XI 

The little food that he could glean 
From leaves of trees and fallen fruits 
Had rendered him as hard and lean 
As any of the savage brutes 
That shared with him the wilderness, 
But could not share the iron mind 
That seemed his body to obsess 
With urgent madness of a kind 
That drove his hardly human brain 
Along the bitter path of pain. 

XII 

For forty years, by day and night, 
He lay upon his thorny bed, 
Or sat and fixed his feeble sight 
Upon the clouds of spray that fled 
266 



THE PATH OF PAIN 

Like steam above the waterfall, 
Thundering down the headlong drop ; 
While round the ringing rocky wall 
The endless echoes never stop. 
For forty years of sun and rain 
He followed on his path of pain. 



XIII 

The thunder of the waterfall 
Fell fainter on his older ears ; 
But fainter still he heard the call 
Of strong desire of former years. 
The battle he had fought was won ; 
Pain could no longer rack his soul ; 
Yet now his race was nearly run 
He felt no nearer to the goal, 
No wiser by the merest grain, 
From following the path of pain. 



xjv 

Then in the cavern chill and dim 
He felt a new and biting fear, 
For subtle doubt invaded him, 
And in his heart he heard it jeer, 
Laughing to scorn the idle end 
That claimed and wasted all his days, 
Now that it was too late to mend, 
While pointing out the wiser ways 



THE PATH OF PAIN 

That, following a path more sane, 
Led further than the path of pain. 



xv 

The voice cried out, " Men have but one 

Short life to live before they die, 

And yours is very nearly done, 

You lured yourself to live a lie, 

Wasting the sweetness of your age 

In wretched misery alone ; 

As full of pride as any sage, 

As void of wisdom as a stone. 

Seek out the mirror of a pool 

And drown your image for a fool ! " 



XVI 

At this his resolution gave, 
And, standing high above the fall, 
He watched the eager waters rave, 
And heard their hollow booming call 
To everlasting painless peace. 
For now his life had lost its zest, 
Their promise of a swift release, 
Calling his weary heart to rest, 
Seemed to be drawing him to leap 
And drcwn his pain in dreamless sleep. 



268 



THE PATH OF PAIN 

xvn 

Then habit of long years of pain 
Came to defend his wild distress ; 
His will determined once again 
To struggle till he could suppress 
This latest frailty of the mind, 
This latest yielding to desire, 
Attacking him in novel kind 
More sharp than thorns, more fierce than fire ; 
So in the end he conquered this 
The strongest of his enemies. 

xvra 

Yet pondering upon the thought 
That had so deeply troubled him, 
He wondered if the fight he fought 
Were bound perforce to be so grim, 
Or whether other paths as well 
Led to the purity he hoped 
Would save him from the depth of hell. 
And while his mind thus dimly groped, 
It was as though a shaft of light 
Suddenly deft the black of night. 

XIX 

He saw that neither heav'n nor hell 
Had place within the scheme of things 
Except as tales for priests to tell. 
He saw that common men and kings 

269 



THE PATH OF PAIN 

Alike march forward on their way 
To one great future that they share 
With bird and beast, with night and day, 
With those who shrink and those who dare, 
With tempest and with waterfall 
To be absorbed into the All. 



xx 

He saw that all was one great soul, 
And that a man when he was dead 
Became united to the whole, 
Whatever path he chose to tread ; 
Just as the living lightning flash 
Is reabsorbed into the earth, 
Just as the waters where they crash 
Flow to the sea that gave them birth, 
Just as the trees that die and rot 
Make soil where others are begot. 



XXI 

For this he saw was not the end, 
This death that fills the world with fear, 
But rather is a newer blend 
Of all that changes year by year, 
Going to join the central soul, 
And neither doth subtract nor add 
One least iota of the whole. 
Why should this change appear so sad ? 
270 



THE PATH OF PAIN 

Why should there be such endless strife 
Twixt rival schools of after-life ? 



XXII 

He saw the path he trod was true, 

For it had led him to the truth ; 

But still he saw that others too 

Were wider, happier paths for youth 

To march with comrades hand in hand ; 

Instead of seeking solitude, 

To feel their nature still expand, 

To see their failing force renewed 

In children springing from their strength, 

And so to pass in peace at length. 

XXIII 

Now he had found his peace at last, 
He sat immovable all day 
And heard the waters rushing past 
Beneath the film of floating spray ; 
He saw the branches toss and fret 
As he himself had fretted too 
Before the truth had reached him yet. 
He felt the hours were very few, 
And by that night he hoped to gain 
The end of his long path of pain. 



271 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 



BENEATH a feathery tamarind 
That cast a patch of dense black shade, 
And murmured softly when the wind 
Blew hot across the scorching plain, 
A mat of rushes had been laid 
Where lived for years an aged man. 
Through storm and sunshine, wind or rain, 
Since first his course of thought began, 
There he sat on beneath the tree 
Till death should come to set him free. 



n 

Plunged in impenetrable thought, 
Immovable for hours and days, 
While still his soul flew on and sought 
To find some way of passing through 
The doors that bar the different ways 
Leading from darkness into day, 
Where all the mysteries come true ; 
While round his feet the squirrels play 
And monkeys chatter overhead 
His body rests as rest the dead. 
273 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 

HI 

The children shouting at their play 
Disturb him not, he never knows 
Whether the time is night or day, 
Until his wand'ring mind returns, 
And once again the wind that blows 
Finds him alive beneath the tree. 
Once more he feels the heat that burns, 
And once again the children see 
Their Yogi's eyes have opened wide 
To seek the water by his side. 



Then to the village off they fly 

And fetch the best their homes can find, 

Nor give one thought to wonder why 

The Ydgi's life should be so strange : 

It was the manner of his kind 

To die and come to life again. 

To sleep and let his spirit range, 

To sit in sun and wind and rain. 

The man was holy in their eyes, 

They only knew him good and wise. 



The peasants were content to plod 
Along the way their fathers went ; 
But still the path the Ydgi trod, 
The path of wisdom, made them hope 

8 273 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 

That one among their gods had sent 
So wise a man to be their guide ; 
And they would wander up the slope 
To sit for hours by his side, 
Taking him problems to resolve 
And points of village law to solve. 



VI 

All this he did with kindly heart, 
Deciding justly every case, 
And freely trying to impart 
Some of the principles he found 
Common to all the human race ; 
While his admirers spread his name 
Throughout the villages around, 
Till he who sought it not found fame, 
And simple folk from far and near 
Brought troubles for his words to clear. 



VII 

Even the children felt no fear 
Of this old man whose clear bright eyes 
Smiled welcome when they ventured near. 
But when his spirit fled away 
To some far distant paradise, 
They looked with awe upon his face, 
So wise and old, so thin and grey, 
And kept due distance from the place 
274 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 

Where he sat on in sun and rain 
Until his soul returned again. 



VHX 

The Yogi long had lost all grief, 
With other weakness cast aside, 
When first he shed his crude belief 
In all the devils having power 
To trouble humans by their pride, 
Jealous of all the strength they wield, 
And claiming thanks for every shower 
That falls upon a thirsty field. 
Old superstitions dropped away, 
Letting in wisdom like a ray. 



IX 

The misty fears of childish hours 
In all the hundred kinds of ghost, 
And other supernatural powers 
That hover in the twilight round, 
A countless wonder-working host, 
Are easy for a man to kill 
Where he sees other men have found 
Their impotence for good or ill ; 
But his enlightenment is slow 
Whose fellows' range of thought is loi 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 



But where the Yogi lived his days 

The people wandered all their lives 

In an inexplicable maze, 

Where ghosts and bogies, imps and spooks. 

Infest their fields and haunt their wives, 

Dogging their feet with cold alarms ; 

And where, in half a hundred books, 

Are written rows and rows of charms, 

Believed alike by young and old 

To cure each evil life can hold. 



XI 

The leopard who attacks their herds 

Is no more real than evil eye 

That blasts their crops, while flocks of bi ds 

Who peck their fruit cause less dismay 

Than imps who make the cows run dry. 

The woods that whisper in the breeze 

Are just as full by night or day 

Of devils as they are of trees. 

And these beliefs the Yogi shared 

Until his path of thought he dared. 



XII 

When he had cleansed his soul of fear 
He sat and thought with open mind 
276 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 

In concentration long and clear 
Whether there be a god at all, 
Or whether puzzled human-kind 
Invented god to give them hope 
That, like the ripened seeds that fall, 
They rise again, once more to grope 
In blind pursuit of fleeing peace, 
Till a new death brings new release. 



XIII 

And here he passed in wide review 
The gods his people most revered, 
Judging that none of them were true, 
But vain creations, made by man 
To hold ideas he loved or feared 
In concrete form before his eyes 
Ever since abstract thought began 
To interest the dimly wise. 
So he dismissed them from his mind 
And sought some greater god to find. 



XIV 

Some god too wise to make mistakes, 
Too high to know, and too immense 
To care what course a human takes 
Within the laws he gave the earth. 
Some god whose thought is so intense 
As irresistibly to act, 

277 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 

Causing each concept, from its birth, 

To be a living, concrete fact ; 

So that if he conceived a sun 

Straightway through space its course would run. 



xy 

He sought in vain for any sign 
That he could show as final proof 
Pointing to such a soul divine. 
But here he felt himself at fault ; 
For if the god were more aloof 
And high above his faculty 
Than all the stars that fill the vault, 
Well might he seek in vain to see 
Some sign so small he could pretend 
Its inwardness to apprehend. 



XVI 

All was too great for man to hold 
Within the limit of his brain, 
And be the seeker ev'n so bold 
As to endeavour forcibly 
To climb the stars and thus to gain 
A wider vision in the end ; 
While he climbed higher, steadily 
The far horizon would extend 
Out and beyond for evermore, 
Leaving him further than before. 
278 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 

XVII 

So then he wondered, " Who am I 

In whom these mysteries revolve ? 

Are these thoughts mine, or did they fly 

Looking for minds to enter in, 

Seeking some medium to resolve 

Them into one resultant thought 

Whence, purified, again they win 

Back to the mind where they were wrought ? 

If they are from the soul divine, 

Then who am I now they are mine ? 



XVIII 

" How can I tell indeed if I 
Am but a thought within a frame, 
Caught by a mind when passing by, 
And struggling hopelessly to free 
Itself from that which has no claim 
To hold it thus a prisoner 
In impotent captivity ? 
Perhaps it is this wanderer 
Who urged me to the path I trod 
That he might re-unite with God ! 



XIX 

" If I am then the thought that flew, 
And I the frame he occupied, 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 

And I the mind in which there grew 
This power thus strangely to array 
These different ' Fs ' all side by side 
Before a fourth * I,' judging all, 
It seems impossible to say 
If there be any ' I ' at all ; 
For if a god there really be, 
I am of him, and he of me." 



xx 

From this he formed a new idea 
Which, as he pondered for a time, 
Slowly gained shape and shone out clear 
That " god " is just a word for " soul " ; 
That which in all things is sublime, 
Whether an insect or a world ; 
The subtle spirit of the whole 
Which only slowly is unfurled 
To those who seek for something grand 
And build up power to understand. 



XXI 

At that his chain of reasoning 
Broke, and his soul came dropping down, 
As stoops a falcon on the wing, 
Into his mind so far below. 
His brows were knitted in a frown 
That passed and left his opened eyes, 
280 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 

With dawning comprehension slow, 
Shine in a smile of faint surprise 
To find his body as before 
Far from the god he nearly saw. 



XXII 

The squirrels nibbled at the food 

Placed by the people near his hand ; 

He saw a partridge lead her brood, 

Teaching them how to pick up ants ; 

He heard the moving monkey band 

Stir in the boughs above his head ; 

He breathed the scent of growing plants. 

" Am I indeed so far," he said, 

" From the great mind whose thought made these, 

Who all their laws of life decrees ? 



XXIII 

" If all that lives is really one, 

Who made that one, and where is he 

Now his creative task is done ? 

If all creation sprang from thought, 

What can that great creator be 

Who first conceived the thought that made 

His own existence out of naught ? 

If each required another's aid 

Some old creative force to lend, 

Then is the chain without an end I 

281 



THE PATH OF WISDOM 

XXIV 

" I find the path of wisdom pall, 
For I am wise enough to see 
That wisdom is not all in all. 
Many are wise who are not kind, 
And simple folk can often be 
As kind or kinder than the wise. 
The long retreat that made me blind 
At last has opened my old eyes ; 
I shall pursue the path of love 
And look on wisdom from above ! " 

XXV 

The children playing near his tree 

Were startled by the aged voice 

That called, " Come, little ones, to me ! 

Come sit by me and I will tell 

A tale to make your hearts rejoice ! " 

They gathered by the Yogi's side, 

And in the glamour of his spell 

Their eyes awoke in wonder wide 

At seeing such a shining story 

Of kings and princes, gold and glory. 



282 



THE PATH OF LOVE 

I TRIED to write the path of love, 
But found it far too high for me 
Who cannot feel, yet dimly see 
A path go mounting high above 
All I have felt of purest joy, 
All I have gained from keenest pain, 
All I have gathered since, a boy, 
I first trod wisdom's path in vain 
To find an everlasting wall 
Veiling my vision of the All. 

I failed to find the path I sought 
Because the path was not in me, 
But purer, higher, mounting free, 
And trod by those whom love has taught 
More wisdom than the wise have known, 
More joy than they can hope to find 
Whose eyes are fixed on joy alone, 
More pain to comfort in mankind 
Than they have felt who vainly hope 
Blindly through pain for truth to grope. 

This path is still too hard to know, 
But yet the fleeting glimpse I gain 



THE PATH OF LOVE 

Through others' eyes is not all vain, 

And leaves some hope that there may grow 

A "higher power in higher men 

To follow newer, truer things 

Now far above our human ken, 

To circle wider on new wings 

Until the mind of man at last 

Shall in the soul of truth stand fast. 



284 



BLIND BEGGAR'S PATTER 

FR Virtue's sake i Oh, you that climb so high, 
Hurrying on to seek the topmost shrine, 
Hearken, for Virtue's sake, and heed my cry. 
Give for the love of God, if not for mine 1 
For Virtue's sake ! My voice is hoarse with years, 
Wearied with calling to the feet that fly ; 
The footsteps and the voices that one hears, 
While ah 1 how few hear me, but hasten by 
Where I sit on in sunshine and in rain ; 
Forming strange pictures in my stunted mind 
Of those whose feet move past, nor turn again 
To greet the beggar whom they leave behind. 
Listen, for Virtue's sake 1 Just pause and think 1 
Think what it is to be forever blind ! 
To live my life alone 1 To feel men shrink I 
To be so severed from my fellow-kind 
That they and I can find no common ground 
On which to stand and change experience, 
Except the shifting pattern of swift sound 
That rings my life around as by a fence. 
Think what it is to be forever bound 
To feel before I dare to set my feet ; 
And, when I stray, to wait till I am found, 
And guided back to where I take my scat 



BLIND BEGGAR'S PATTER 

Beside the pilgrim path. To call and call, 
Begging from those whose footsteps hurry by, 
The while I strive to judge the feet that fall, 
To form some concept of their kind, and try 
To tune my beggar's patter to their heart. 
How can we reach one heaven, you and I, 
When, on this earth, you have so great a start ? 
And where is heaven ? And what is the sky, 
Which men describe as beautiful and great ? 
Great is a word that I can comprehend, 
But beauty seems to mean some sort of state 
My wisdom cannot grasp, though I pretend 
To know its meaning when I praise a maid. 
My ill is one no wealth nor power could mend ; 
For, owning wealth, I still should feel afraid 
Of being robbed of what I could not spend. 
Give ! For the love of Virtue ! You that go 
To lay before some god your offerings. 
Leave but a tithe to minimize my woe. 
Am I less worthy than those cold stone things 
That sit in state, while men pass to and fro 
To worship what was made by human hand ? 
Ah ! How the stone would laugh if it could know I 
Give, for the love of God ! And I will stand 
Your proxy, and will pour my tireless prayer 
Into the ears of that great god of stone, 
Who, being blind as I, will surely hear. 
Speak to me kindly ! 'Tis not food alone, 
Nor money tinkling in my shallow dish 
That satisfies the soul. Nor would I own 
286 



BLIND BEGGAR'S PATTER 

This temple, were I master of one wish ; 

But I would claim a friend whose life had grown 

A twin with mine, whose every passing thought 

Was free for me to share, and loyal to me. 

I weary calling. Yet you answer naught. 

Speak ! For the love of God ! What can you be 

That hurry past, nor stop to throw one word 

To him the gods have marked with misery ? 

In name of righteousness 1 Hast thou not heard ? 

Then may the gods no more pay heed to thce I 



SUN WORSHIP 

THE mountain slopes were dark with wood. 
Its rock-bound head was grey, 
When, from the temple where I stood, 
The bells resounded through the wood. 
I heard them hail the dawn of day ; 
I heard their solemn echo roll away 

Deep, deep was the booming call ; 
The triumph of its pride 

Reverberated round the wall, 

And as in answer to the call 
The gates of heaven were opened wide, 
To pour their gold upon the mountain-side. 

The daily miracle of dawn 
Broke through the mists that hung : 

Another child to Hope was born ; 

To Hope, the daughter of the dawn ; 
Another hymn of praise was sung ; 
Another gift of happiness was flung. 

Fly, fogs, from the mountain's face, 
Winged by the winds that blow, 
288 



SUN WORSHIP 

The wakening winds that joyful race, 

Exulting over earth's new face, 
While eastward all our turrets glow, 
And flash their message to the plains below. 

Then high upon the temple wall, 

Arrayed in gold and white, 
The priests obeyed the belfry's call, 
Their anthem pealing from the wall, 
To hail the deathless god of light 
Who rose above the mountains in his might. 



MOLOCH 

ALL day long the fire had burned, 
Slowly growing to full heat ; 
All day long new idlers turned, 
From the narrow crowded street, 
Through the gateway of the court. 
There they lounged away the hours, 
Wondering if they too ought 
To take the vow and brave its powers. 

All the time that man-made hell 
Burned more fiercely through the day, 
Bound within a shallow well 
Scalloped in the courtyard's clay. 
Stick by stick, and log by log, 
Blackened, whitened, burned to coal, 
Sank into that molten bog ; 
Sank, and spread, and filled the hole, 
Till the weary evening sun 
Sloped to rest behind the earth, 
Thankful that this day was done. 
Then the furnace found new birth, 
Showed more redly in the dark, 
Shone like phosphorus on foam, 
Glowed, while each exploding spark 
290 



MOLOCH 

Briefly showed the curving dome 
Looming black above the fire, 
Showed the trembling heat-blown palms, 
Showed each slender pointed spire 
Reaching up to heaven, as arms 
Reach for what they most desire. 

Midnight found the crowd more dense. 
Vibrant with fanatic wrath, 
Self-suppressed, and more intense, 
More expectant to rush forth 
Than the flames the logs had hidden, 
Bound within them through the ages, 
Till for this strange purpose bidden 
Leap to life and loose their rages. 
Through the body of the crowd 
Quivered keen electric force, 
Humming in a tone not loud, 
Deep, and muttering, and hoarse. 
Just as though the whole were forged 
Into some exultant beast, 
Growling till his rage were gorged, 
Waiting fiercely for his feast 
Human feeling seemed all merged 
In foul appetite for death, 
Sunk in savage glee that urged 
All the crowd to breathe one breath. 

Flames still Bickered in the well, 
One step down, and four across, 
T* 



MOLOCH 

Four short steps to win through hell : 
Who could fail so short a course ? 
Only four, yet feel the heat 
Striking upward from the ground 1 
Feel the stifling waves that beat 
On the faces watching round ! 
One step down, and then but four, 
Naked on that burning floor. 

Midnight strikes, the hollow gong, 
Booming loud beneath the vaulting, 
Rings the signal for the song ; 
Voices of the vowed exalting, 
Marching slowly to their fate 
Through the slow unfolding gate. 

Now the priests bring forth their god, 
Slowly moving, deeply chanting 
On their shoulders see him nod, 
Blind and deaf to all their vaunting, 
Smiling at their boundless claims, 
Smiling at the flickering flames. 

Round the furnace in a ring, 
Past that silent smiling figure, 
Round the fire they move and sing, 
Praise his wisdom, praise his vigour. 
Why should men their voices raise ; 
Would god die without their praise ? 



292 



MOLOCH 

Round, and round, and round they file, 
Round, and round, with speed increasing ; 
Still their god does naught but smile, 
Smiles as he has smiled unceasing 
For a thousand silent years, 
Smiled at praise, at love, at tears. 

Faster 1 Faster 1 Faster now ! 
Faster, while the leaping flames 
Glance upon the god's calm brow. 
Faster while they shout his names : 
Names of splendour, names of power. 
Will names help them in this hour ? 

Once again the hollow gong 
Lends the impulse of its thunder. 
Louder peals the triumph song. 
Forward, in a wave of wonder, 
Sway the people, while their hum 
Murmurs like a distant drum. 

Suddenly a boy steps down. 
One step down. They smell the burning. 
Will he gain the victor's crown ? 
Four across. The faces turning 
Watch him licked by hungry flame, 
Shout their god's most awful name. 

Now that one has led the way, 
Others very swiftly follow, 



MOLOCH 

Follow through like lads at play, 
Track him through that flaming hollow ; 
Follow through, and all the while 
God looks on with god-like smile. 

Scorched and blind they struggle through. 
Boom the gongs with deaf'ning rumble. 
All have gained their god but two : 
Two whose shrinking footsteps stumble : 
Two whose souls were not quite pure : 
Two whose feet were not quite sure. 

Loud the priests new chorus raise ; 
Damned are those who fall through terror I 
Great is god who can appraise, 
Judge and punish human error ! 
Shout ye people of the crowd I 
Just is god, and strong, and proud ! 



The people parted to their homes, 
The priests withdrew beneath their domes, 
The fire glowed red upon the palms, 
The stars looked down and saw the arms 
Of all the high uplifted spires 
Yearn for the love of their far fires. 
Deep in his shrine the god still smiled. 
But one poor soul who sought her child 
Wept by that hell, nor ceased to mourn 
Till chased away by priests at dawn. 



294 



A LOST ART 

TTTHEN I was a child not ten years old 
VV I loved to lie in the grass, 
While sunlight flecked my face with gold, 
I harked to the talcs the breezes told, 
As they sauntered softly past. 

And free from servitude to words, 

Feelings and thoughts flew by, 
Flew swiftly by like flocks of birds, 
Or the wild white clouds whose silent herds 

Speed o'er the fields of sky. 

I lay and let my senses steep 

In the rays of the living sun, 
While there grew a peace more sweet than sleep, 
Till self was sunk in the soundless deep 

Where I and the world were one. 



*95 



HIDE AND SEEK 

A Duet for Eileen 

O WHERE shall I hide you, my little smiling child ? 
Whither shall we hie ourselves away ? 
Down among the rushes, by the river running wild, 
Where the water-birds are calling all the day. 

O what if they pry in the rushes with a boat ? ( 

Tell me, if we hear the hunter's call : 
We'll sit upon the lily leaves, and down the river float 

To the shadows where the forest flowers fall. 

O what if they follow down the river flowing free ? 

Tell me how to leave them far behind. 
We'll hide among the blossoms on the tallest forest tree, 

In the happy swinging gardens of the wind. 

There where the bees suck the honey from the flowers, 
Where the butterflies are shining in the sun, 

Where the birds all warble through the summer's 

smiling hours, 
We will hide until the twilight has begun. 



A CHILD'S TALE 

AND one dark evening when the wind blew wild, 
Howling around the hills behind the house, 
She sat as silent as a little mouse, 
Watching the flickering flames, while he beguiled 
Her childish terror with an endless tale. 
Then, as he turned the pages of the years, 
Conquering smiles broke through and dried her tears ; 
While he grew younger with the rising gale ; 
Until the two of them flew hand in hand, 
Where scarlet streamers floated from the towers, 
And waves came riding up the golden sand, 
Where children bathed, and played among the flowers 
Till she sped on across the land of dreams, 
While he came back and watched the fire's last gleams. 



297 



TRUE CLAIRVOYANCE 

THERE are days when thought comes clear, and 
swift, and keen, 

Beautiful days, too short, and ah ! too rare, 
When words may rest in sleep, for thoughts are seen 
In coloured pictures cast upon the air. 

Problems of misery, or want, or wrong, 
Unfold themselves, resolving view by view, 
And self is but a note in some great song 
Of courage. But, alas, such days are few. 

On days like these, we have but one desire, 
To give our uttermost for human-kind, 
And faith shines forth in flames of living fire, 
That all is clearly good, though sadly blind. 

These days, that come but after we have mused, 
With sleeping life in trust, for weary hours, 
Ought to be seized upon and boldly used ; 
For days of vision give men god-like powers. 

And when they fade, and ignorance returns, 
With clinging fogs that stupefy the soul, 
298 



TRUE CLAIRVOYANCE 

Tis hard to feed the flame that dimly burns, 
And harder still to steer toward the goal. 

So, while they last, they should be given free, 
For giving freely leaves the soul more clean ; 
And in their memory we sadly see 
The higher sort of man we might have been. 



THE FISHERMAN 

BETWEEN the reefs that guard the shore, 
The waves roll through and break ahead, 
And there upon a rock I saw 
A man who sought his daily bread. 

He stood upon the rock alone : 
The waves rolled up and thundered by : 

But still he stood upon the stone, 
Engraved against the western sky. 

White were the rocks with whistling spray : 
The waves rolled in and thundered past : 

And homeward to the darkening bay 
The long canoes came flying fast. 

Adown the golden afterglow 
The boats flew by and raced for home, 

But still he watched his line below, 
And cast it on the hissing foam. 

Bright was the moonlight on the palms : 
The waves rolled on and thundered through : 

When, heedless all of other charms, 
Out from the deep a fish he drew. 
300 



THE FISHERMAN 

So was accomplished his great end : 
The waves roll on their thunder still : 

I wish the gods to each would send 
Some aim as easy to fulfil. 



THE REEF 

OUT on the reef where the rollers break 
There stands a lonely rock ; 
And fishing there, I have felt it quake 
To the sea's relentless shock. 

Swift things like spiders wander there, 
In the wrath of the breaker's comb ; 

In the shattering crash 'twixt sea and air 
They fix their sleepless home. 

The nimble spmy-legge*d crabs, 

Like ghouls of an older age, 
Swarm on the outer sea-swept slabs, 

In the path of the ocean's rage. 

The waves sink down, and the rocks rise black, 

Alive with things that crawl : 
The smothering roar of the waves sweep back, 

And thunder to their fall. 

Savage and wild on their border fief 

The rock-born creatures range : 
The life that clings to the smitten reef 

Is wild, and fierce, and strange. 
302 



THE REEF 

Behind the rock, on the inner side, 

The sea is still and warm : 
In coral gardens branching wide 

The coloured fishes swarm. 

Among the sea-anemones, 

Among the coral scrolls, 
As delicate as butterflies, 

There flit the tinted shoals. 

Those creatures of the outer rocks 

Seem more remote to me 
Than seem these dainty painted flocks 

In the gardens of the sea. 

But those wild, restless, savage things 
Are more advanced than flowers ; 

Some chord within their nature rings 
To some deep note in ours. 

Although we share no single thought, 
We seek some common goal. 

Enough that they are fairly wrought, 
And worthy of the whole. 



NOTES 

Farewell, Angora. We were kept in the old Armenian 
monastery, called The Wank, at Angora. A strange, 
rambling building, half stronghold and half farm, four- 
square and containing several large paved courts. The 
Armenian massacres were, I believe, still proceeding in 
and near the town, but we saw nothing of them. We 
were too closely kept. In the valleys near-by were a 
number of deserted Armenian houses and vineyards. 
The graveyard attached to The Wank contained the tomb- 
stones of several wanderers, English, French, and Danish, 
the oldest being that of William Black, Mercator Anglii, 
dated 1681 A.D. 

The Armenian Church. At the end of March 1916 
three British naval officers escaped from Afion Kara 
Hissar. The remainder of us, British, French, and 
Russians, were cast forthwith into an empty Armenian 
church, and kept there for seven weeks. We filled it 
completely with our property, for even prisoners acquire 
property extraordinarily quickly, and the floor looked 
like some strange encampment without tents. The first 
night the Russians kept watch, tramping up and down 
until dawn, so as to be ready when the Turks came to 
cut our throats. The French and English slept. 

The Ballad of Suvla Bay The Brigadier. Since 
coming home I am glad to hear that the Brigadier's leg 
was saved for him after all, Long may he enjoy the use 
of it. 

304 



NOTES 

The Fourth M an. Members of two escape parties, one 
unsuccessful from Turkey, and one successful from 
Germany, have told me that they and thtir companions 
shared a delusion that an extra and friendly person 
accompanied them. In each case there were the same 
accompaniments of fatigue, nervous strain, and short 
food. 

The Kingdom of Ayan&v. Ay an AT is a wood-god who 
rules in the wild Willachiya Korale, a district in the North 
Central Province of Ceylon. He is worshipped by the 
Sinhalese and Veddhas of that forest, but has neither 
image nor temple. He is a benevolent deity on the whole, 
though a trifle malicious if ignored. He is a personal 
friend of the writer, or supposed to be, but I know little of 
him save what is written here. 

The Clan of the Bow, the Dunnagatwarige, is a clan 
of Veddhas inhabiting Ayanar's country. There are very 
few of them left. I saw myself an elephant captive in 
a waterhole exactly as described, and while I was watch- 
ing him three bears came out from the forest. But, 
unlike Undiya, I had a rifle. One of these Veddhas taught 
me how to make fire by stick friction. 

Talcs from the Mahawansa. Tho Mahawansa is one 
of the most remarkable books in the world. It was a 
chronicle of the Kings of Lanka (Ceylon) originally com- 
piled in about the filth century A.D. from earlier legends 
and from written books now lost. Mah&nama, the 
original author, brought it up to near his own times, from 
nearly xooo years before. Subsequent monks added to 
Mahanama's work, and the book was continued until 
1815 A.D., when the British, at the request of the 
Kandiyan Sinhalese, took over their government. 

Writing in captivity I had perforce to trust only to my 
memory for these tales, but I believe them to be sub- 
stantially correct, though in several instance* I have 
given names to people who were not named in the 

3<>5 



NOTES 

chronicle. I have not yet had a chance of checking my 
remembrances, and trust that any hypercritical scholar 
will bear the circumstances in mind, 

The Messenger. To the best of my recollection this 
took place in about the ninth century A.D. I don't think 
the messenger's name was given, but ABHAYA means 
" the fearless." 

The Unveiling of Dhdtusena. This story is historical and 
is to be found in the thirty -eighth chapter of the Sinhalese 
history named the Mahawansa, a book which was written 
by a priest named Mahanama, who may have been the 
very man described herein. All the places described exist 
as described, and all the people bear their own names 
except the princess. Her name is not stated, so, as a name 
was essential, I took for her the name of another princess 
of Lanka. The cartman lived on until the end of Kasyapa's 
reign of eighteen years, and then was made a doorkeeper 
of the palace by Moggallana. 

Kdsyapa. With the exception of the Chinaman, the char- 
acters in this story are historical, and the facts and actions 
attributed to them are in the main drawn from genuine old 
Sinhalese records of those times. Several Chinese book- 
collecting monks visited Ceylon, the most famous being 
Fa Hien, who sojourned in Anuradhapura for some years 
in the fifth century A.D., and who, on his return to China, 
wrote a very entertaining book describing his travels. 
Hiuen Tsang, in the seventh century A.D., also gave some 
account of Ceylon in his most interesting book, but did 
not cross the sea from South India, as the island kingdom 
was at that time in a troublous state. Migara fell into 
disgrace, later on, in Moggallana's court. The remains of 
Kasyapa's citadel and its galleries at Sigiriya are still 
among the most remarkable ruins in Asia. The ruins of 
the nunnery were excavated in the year 1906 by the 
Archaeological Survey, of which I was then a member: 

J. S. 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY 



PR Still, John 

6037 Poems in captivity 

T5P6